Jake Hoffman’s feature film directorial debut, Asthma, deploys almost every romantic comedy trope there is, all the while throwing in heroin to give it some street cred. It longs to be edgy and ironic. It’s a romantic comedy wanting to be a Wes Anderson film.

Krysten Ritter’s character, a tattoo artist named Ruby, was the ultimate manic pixie dream girl and just to show how quirky she is, she carries her tattoo supplies in a vintage suitcase. Because did we mention quirk? From the moment Gus (Benedict Samuel) meets Ruby in a bar, he hits on her, is rebuffed, takes that as a “yes please, come at me some more,” and then discovers she was just being coy after all. “Don’t go falling in love with me,” Ruby tells Gus, in ultimate MPDG-who-is-afraid-of-love fashion. SPOILER: he does.

In a similarly self-aware and incredibly self-conscious scene, Gus faces romantic competition from Ruby’s ex, Logan Backer (Dov Tiefenbach) and they debate on if they need to fight, ultimately deciding they would rather not. Hoffman tip-toes up to rejecting the trope of “feuding paramours” but ultimately decides that is too challenging. In this scene and in the rest of the movie, Hoffman settles for the amateur and lazy move of having the characters say what he wants the film to be, instead of just making the film what he wants it to be.

 

Image via IFC Films

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Taia is a fabulous human who is working and writing in New York City. She writes about politics, reproductive rights, and pop culture. When not writing she likes to sleep, read Carl Sagan, and do as many squats as her legs can handle. Follow her on Twitter @taiahandlin and Facebook as Taia Handlin.
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