TWO GIRLS AND A GUY
When considering a title like Two Girls and a Guy, one can be forgiven for expecting
something a little risquÃ©. (In fact, a friend of mine quipped, "I didn't think you reviewed movies
like that.") Add to that the swirl of controversy regarding the film's brush with an NC-17 rating,
and it's not unreasonable to anticipate more than a little flesh, and maybe a threesome or two.
However, anyone who goes into Two Girls and a Guy with those expectations is going to
be very disappointed. The movie is far from being a soft-core sex-fest. In fact, this is
really just a three-character play featuring absolutely no nudity.
It also features almost no story. Two women, Carla (Heather Graham) and Lou (Natasha Gregson
Wagner), discover that their boyfriend, Blake (Robert Downey Jr.), has been cheating on each of
them with the other. He spends three days a week with Carla and three days a week with Lou,
then, on the seventh day, he rests. So they break into his apartment and wait for him to return from
a trip. Instead of tying him up and torturing him, they talk to him, argue with him, and wait
around while he makes phone calls to his apparently-sick mother. One of them then has sex with
him while the other listens at the door. Later, it's true confessions, and it turns out that faithfulness
in this twisted triangle is a rare commodity.
Two Girls and a Guy survives on acting and dialogue alone. A fair amount of the film,
especially Downey's solo sequences, appears to have been improvised, and this lends an air of
unpredictability to the proceedings. All three characters are well-drawn, ably-portrayed, and
strangely appealing (even the cad, Blake). They are creations of the moment, however, with only
sketchy histories and little depth. Who are they outside the confines of Blake's apartment? We
never learn that. About all we know about the two girls is that Carla, the blonde, is beautiful,
clever, and has a good heart, while Lou, the redhead, is cute, streetwise, and self-sufficient. Blake
is a compulsive liar who is obsessed with his mother's health. His favorite song is, not
surprisingly, "You Don't Know Me."
To the best of my knowledge, Two Girls and a Guy was never produced on stage, but it
could have been. The setting is limited to a few rooms in an apartment. The "action" is 90%
talking, and, as with any movie of this sort, the quality of the acting is crucial. All three leads are
up to the task, which occasionally requires them to perform in lengthy, unbroken, dialogue-laden
scenes. Heather Graham, whose recent roles in Boogie
Nights and Lost in Space have increased
her exposure, is excellent as the reserved Carla. Likewise, Natasha Gregson Wagner (the daughter
of Natalie Wood and stepdaughter of Robert Wagner, for anyone who's interested) is effective as
the impetuous, energetic Lou. Both actresses use body language and facial expressions to
compliment what they say.
Meanwhile, Robert Downey Jr. is stupendous as Blake. His talent is on display here -- he can sing,
dance, and act. He can be funny and tragic. Also, he appears to be slipping into the Woody Allen
mode of bringing aspects of his off-screen persona into his parts. In Hugo Pool, his own father cast him as a stoned, deranged
egomaniac. Here, there's a scene where he whispers the following lines to a mirror: "Why do you
do this? Is this how you want to live the rest of your life?" It's impossible not to see this short
monologue as self-referential.
So why the almost-NC-17 (which was eventually demoted to an R after director James Toback re-
edited the offending scene umpteen times)? Penetration? Gynecological close-ups? Nope. It's
because the members of the MPAA have vivid imaginations. They interpreted a certain scene to
represent something that no one under 18 should be exposed to. (Personally, I thought the girl was
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