Three for the price of one

Issue 

Flirt
Directed by Hal Hartley
Stars Martin Donovan, Bill Sage
Dendy Films
Opens nationally September 12
Reviewed by Margaret Allan

It is unusual for the characters in a film to start discussing amongst themselves whether or not the film maker has succeeded in his stated project, but this is a fairly unusual movie.

By filming the same story-line and virtually the same dialogue three times, each time in a different country, Hal Hartley's new film Flirt could well have been tedious. However, due to the varied settings and character manipulations, this becomes quite an interesting and enjoyable triple feature.

Hartley varies the gender and sexual orientation of the core characters in each setting to explore the effect this has on the overall nature of the unfolding relationships.

While this certainly changes the immediate feel of each section of the film, the overall impression is that of a common thread that individual personalities and specific roles contribute to the dynamics of a relationship rather than the essential male/femaleness or hetero/homosexuality of those within it.

The story centres on the indecisive flirt, the older, more stable lover, the casual encounter and the jealous partner, and a chain of events common to each setting.

If you have ever experienced a Hal Hartley film, this style will be familiar:, dry dialogue delivered in the trademark deadpan style by actors who feature frequently in his productions. Bill Sage, Dwight Ewell and Miho Nikaido stand out as the "flirt" of each story.

As with previous Hartley films, despite the enjoyable nature of his work, the overall statement is always in danger of appearing far more profound than it eventually turns out to be.