In its dramatic tensions and forced conflicts, The Crew, a new American indie, feels like an exercise in group dynamics rather than a fully worked-out narrative. Well-intentioned but uneven tale of a pleasurable yacht cruise that turns into a nightmare might be of some interest to minor film festivals, though it lacks any commercial potential.
Five youngsters go on what is expected to be a relaxing, enjoyable cruise in the Bahamas. The protagonist, Bill (Donal Logue) is still tormented by the suicide of his alcoholic mother (Grace Zabriskie), but he decides to join his wife Jennifer (Pamela Gidley) on a yacht owned by her brother Phillip (Viggo Mortensen), an uptight yuppie lawyer. Phillip's client Alex (John Phibin), a rock musician, and his "mysterious" date Catherine (Sam Jenkins) round up the group.
The anticipated fun is all but vanished, when the yacht is taken over by two stranded passengers, whose boat got caught on fire. They are Tim (Jeremy Sisto), a man who's recently undergone sex-change operation, and Camilla (Laura del Sol), a Latina immigrant he's smuggling into the U.S., in an exchange for paying for his operation.
Though set outdoors, this overbaked melodrama has the brooding intensity and claustrophobic ambience of an intimate play. Indeed, the encounter with outsider Tim brings to the surface marital, familial and other tensions which highlight the ugly biases of the more privileged characters. Central conflict is between the nasty, bigoted Phillip and the "misunderstood deviant" Tim.
Interspersed with the blatantly preachy, poorly written melodrama is Tim's telephone call to his lover, which will remind viewers of Sidney Lumet's Dog Day Afternoon. As constructed by writers Colpaert and Smith, the characters don't communicate so much as they scream at each other–the dialogue consists of brief scenes and nasty one-liners.
Some truthful, compassionate moments are achieved in the interaction between the two central outcasts, the straight Bill and the transsexual Tim, but they are contained in a schematic story that telegraph its humanistic messages about tolerance for alternate lifestyles without any subtlety.
Under Colpaert's misguided direction, none of the actors, even the gifted Pamela Gidley, can build coherent, let alone sympathetic characters. Mediocre technical credits make the pedestrian quality of The Crew all the more noticeable.
Camilla……….Laura del Sol
Bill's mother..Grace Zabriskie
A Cineville Inc. production.
Produced by Daniel Hassid, Adam Stern and Dan Ireland.
Directed by Carl-Jan Colpaert.
Screenplay, Colpaert, Lance Smith.
Camera (color), Geza Sinkovics.
Editor, Emma E. Hickox.
Music, Alex Wurman.
Reviewed at the Hamptons Film Festival, Oct. 22, 1994.
Running time: 99 Min.