Patrick Stewart a joy to watch in 'Match'

Friday , February 20, 2015 - 12:00 AM

By Rich Bonaduce
Standard-Examiner correspondent

Written and directed by Stephen Belber, “Match” is a little story with big implications. Its subject matter is highly personal, and the film feels very much like a local play caught on film. This makes sense considering Belber adapted this from his own three-character drama produced for Broadway 10 years ago.

The focus is on its three main leads, and much of the action happens inside of a single location: the homey NYC apartment of ballet teacher Tobi Powell (Patrick Stewart). Though the script is witty and authentic, the film’s success rests mainly on the delivery of those lines from Matthew Lillard, Carla Gugino, and especially Stewart, who seems to relish being able to finally cut loose on film.

Free of the restraints of playing buttoned-down Enterprise Captain Jean Luc Picard on “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” and no longer bound by the sober attitude of Professor Xavier in the “X-Men” film franchise, Stewart chews scenery with abandon, and he is an absolute joy to watch. Lillard and Gugino certainly play their parts (although Gugino is given more to do), but this is Stewart’s film first and foremost. He infuses Juilliard professor Tobi Powell with a mischievous verve and love for life that is at once infectious and eminently watchable.

The storyline is almost secondary to his performance, making “Match” feel little more than a vehicle – a playground in which Stewart can play. And while the plot itself is predictable, with some developments easily seen long before they arrive, with Stewart at the helm the journey toward even the foreseeable is entertaining.

REVIEW

  • THE FILM: ‘Match’
  • CRITIC RATING: ***
  • PLAYING: Tower Theater, Salt Lake City. 94 minutes.
  • MPAA RATING: R: Language, sexual dialogue and some drug use

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