Review: Backseat

Backseat suggests Sideways filtered through a hipster scrim.

Photo: Truly Indie

Do you wanna be fucked tonight?” Shelle (Aubrey Dollar) asks Ben (Rob Bogue), though it would appear he’s more interested in lovin’. Meanwhile, Ben’s bud Colton (Josh Alexander) is fucking up his chances at stardom by dropping trou during an audition. Their twin embarrassments propel them toward Montreal, where Colton hopes to meet up with Donald Sutherland, though it could just as easily have been Werner Herzog for all that it matters to the story. From New York to Canada, Ben and Colton essentially riff on what feels like a roll call of topics: Camus, post-coital insomnia, Barbra Streisand, The Man, feminist theory, sexual racism, and Rockefeller drug laws. The humor, at its best, hinges on the inexplicable, like Colton trying to mack on a 7-Eleven employee by telling her that Ben is Clay Aiken’s cousin, and the roundabout, as in Colton asking two little girls if they know anyone with a doo rag or a car that bops up and down (so he can sell them his cocaine), but frequently succumbs to smugness. “Gay” is happily exploited as an adjective and Shelle suggests a woman out of a Woody Allen film, but whether she’s screaming at Ben to rape her or likening herself to a documentary, this misogynist’s caricature is played by Dollar with convincing gusto. Essentially a hit-or-miss affair, Backseat features a character who only communicates via text message, an expression of the filmmakers’ frustration for the sublimation of human relations that feels amusing but also weird for a film that suggests Sideways filtered through a hipster scrim.

 Cast: Rob Bogue, Josh Alexander, Aubrey Dollar, Will Janowitz, Mark Rosenthal  Director: Bruce Van Dusen  Screenwriter: Josh Alexander  Distributor: Truly Indie  Running Time: 80 min  Rating: NR  Year: 2005  Buy: Video

Ed Gonzalez

Ed Gonzalez is the co-founder of Slant Magazine. His writing has also appeared in The Village Voice and The Los Angeles Times. He’s a member of the New York Film Critics Circle, the Critics Choice Association, and the Latino Entertainment Journalists Association.

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