With the aim of promoting his book of short stories, Davy Mitchell (Geraghty), a shy and awkward author drives across America accompanied by his brash younger brother Sean (O’Neil). After months staying in run down motels, drinking in cheap bars and giving readings in small bookstores and college campuses, the pairs relationship becomes strained and detached, leaving Davy confused and lonely. However, one night in Alburquerue whilst Davy is alone in his motel room the phone rings. The seductive voice on the other end identifies herself as Nicole. Davy, who assumes it is his brother playing a practical joke plays along when asked ‘what are you wearing’. However, Nicole convinces Davy otherwise, and he finds himself becoming surprisingly aroused as they engage in phone sex. On the final months of the book tour, Davy’s phone relationship with Nicole grows from raunchy phone sex to intense conversations that open Davy up.
Back at home their relationship deteriorates when Nicole denies Davy’s request to meet in person. In reaction to this Davy goes on a date with Samantha (Moreau), an attractive friend of his brothers. Once Nicole is made aware of this, they argue and cease all contact. However, Davy’s relationship with Samantha ends in sexual humiliation, upon which he isolates himself and sinks into depression until Nicole finally decides she wants to meet him. However, things may not be as they seem.
Inspired by Davy Rothbart’s autobiographical essay in GQ magazine called ‘What are you wearing’, Kyle Patrick Alvarez’s creates an admirable debut feature. The films main strength derives from its attempt to create a sexually unconfident male protagonist, a refreshing change to the usual sexually assured male lead. However, the film also attempts to explore loneliness and alienation in contemporary society, not an unworthy theme. But its shy and introverted protagonist, who is socially included by his family and friends, comes across as largely alienating himself. Therefore, the film does not effectively explore the social structures that alienate people from one another, which would have been more successful.
Easier with Practice is a great example of American Independent Cinema, containing a well structured and quirky narrative with a great twist at the end. However, the films twist does not appear to emphasize any of its themes, as if it were inserted to create a narrative twist for its own sake as opposed to letting the themes shape the narrative structure. This appears to be an all too common occurrence in modern independent cinema, where narratives are designed with cute little hooks and twist endings, as opposed to exploring themes and ideas in the most effective way.
Stylistically the film is quite inventive; especially Davy’s first phone conversation with Nicole, where a single 10 minute shot gradually zooms in on Davy adding great poignancy to the scene. The pop score montage of Davy’s growing phone romance, a staple of the rom-com, appears a little out of place. Unless it was used in a darkly ironically fashion, then it was used brilliantly.
Overall an interesting and challenging film, especially considering the director is only 25 years old.