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Temps

Year: 2016
Production Co: Grendex Productions
Director: Ryan Sage
Writer: Timothy A Bennett
Cast: Lindsey Shaw, Grant Rosenmeyer

For starters, the title doesn't mean anything. They're temps, sure, but it's got nothing to do with the story. You might as well have called Star Wars 'A Farmer, a Smuggler and a Princess' or Avatar 'Soldiers and Scientists'.

But whatever the method, it's how Steph (Lindsey Shaw) and Jeff (Grant Rosenmeyer) meet and fall for each other. She's recently been put off from her job and he and his best (weird) friend do temp work to finance their annual skiing pilgrimage.

But after several very uncensored tumbles in the hay, Steph wants to know what her and Jeff are – they've banged every which way but never even been on a date, after all. She's particularly perturbed when Jeff hasn't even changed his Facebook status to reflect their relationship.

It comes to a head during a conversation on the pier after a very pleasant walk along the beach when she confronts him about exactly what he thinks they have between them, and it's quickly obvious she's nothing more than a booty call to him. She gives him what for, turns on her heel and kicks off the whole boy-loses-girl-tries-to-get-girl-back true love playbook you've seen a million times.

That's the crux of it but from then on it's handled very ineptly by the script. Any basic premise is shoved into the far background in favour of a lot of superfluous noise to the extent that now – weeks later as I write this review – I hardly even remember what the premise even was besides another bland whitebread rom com.

The tone is all over the place. There are breezy, 90s-inflected laughs and soapy lore about modern love, but we also have a bizarre bookend scene where Jeff – who's gone on the much-talked about ski trip by himself – pulls over, stands by the roadside, screams in rage and punches the bonnet of the car in a scene straight out of a searing emotional drama. There's a plot motif about his slacker father who lives on a boat, a man Jeff seems terrified he's destined to turn into, that similarly hints at much deeper character work that never coalesces.

It's also weird how explicit some of the early sex scenes are, as if director Ryan Sage wants to assure you (and himself) this is no everyday big city rom com... except that the rest of it is nothing but everyday big city rom com.

And there are the bizarre directions it goes in seemingly for want of anything better to do, like the disarmingly casual reveal about what's actually been going on with Steph the whole time, or Jeff's sex shop co-worker who's way too eager and excited when he agrees to go out with her.

But after all that cappuccino froth and whiplash turns off the main track, the script by Timothy Bennett does something unexpected and much smarter than a neat typing up of all Steph and Jeff's differences and loose ends to allow them to fall into each others' arms again.

Shaw is a magnetic enough presence to keep you watching with her piercing but friendly eyes, and the shlubby hero didn't irritate the hell out me as much as I feared he would after the first few scenes. But they aren't enough to make it any less a mess or at all memorable.

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