With Vincent N Roxxy, Gary Michael Schultz offers up an uneven pastiche of bits and pieces from the canon of films with lovers on the run and muscle cars at their center, drawing inspiration for his film’s synth-driven score and Emile Hirsch’s quiet-tough-guy act from Drive, the story’s self-consciously cool male-female dynamics from True Romance, and all the sudden outbursts of mayhem from Natural Born Killers. The film’s indecisiveness in choosing whether to represent violence as thrilling or morally abhorrent, along with its inability to create even the slightest romantic spark between the leads, leaves it vacillating awkwardly between the realms of twee and ultraviolence.
Hirsch and Zoë Kravitz look as if they’ve been forced against their will to traverse the shallow emotional landscape of Vincent N Roxxy together. Vincent (Hirsch) meets Roxxy (Kravitz) after rescuing her from a drug dealer, Suga (Kid Cudi), who assaults her while trying to collect the debt her recently murdered brother still owes him. Soon after, she takes Vincent up on his offer to let her hide out at his old family home in a remote Midwestern town. Here, Vincent reunites with his brother, JC (Emory Cohen), a loose cannon who’s supposedly turned his life around with the help of his girlfriend, Kate (Zoey Deutch). While JC finds himself baited into an escalating vendetta with Kate’s sleazy ex-boyfriend, Darryl (Beau Knapp), Vincent and Roxxy leisurely get to know one another in clumsily protracted sequences that are far less intriguing than either JC’s exploits or the world that Vincent helped Roxxy to escape.
The utter lack of chemistry between Hirsch and Kravitz drains Vincent N Roxxy of its intended romantic pull. Throughout, Vincent and Roxxy’s romancing—he finally puts the moves on her at an abandoned drive-in theater—exudes an awkwardness that one might associate with the dating habits of middle schoolers. Any lingering doubt that Schultz might perhaps be playing the film’s stale, mawkish love scenes for irony is squashed the second the xx’s “Angel” hits during the sex scene. For sure, audiences are meant to take Vincent and Roxxy’s romance with the same dead-seriousness with which she looks at him, while they ride a ferris wheel, and asks him: “What’s your sign?”
As soon as their love is consecrated, Vincent and Roxxy see their paradise infringed upon by a swift wave of vengeance that’s graphic and shocking in its raw brutality—an urgent but bitter dose of soulless nihilism intended as an explicit contrast to the sugary sweetness of Vincent and Roxxy’s Edenic bliss. The film’s gory conclusion is presented with an ostentatious grandiosity that the rest of the film simply doesn’t justify. In striving for such prodigious emotional payoffs, Vincent N Roxxy ultimately only amplifies its failure to bring any vibrancy to a romance it so clearly aims to mythologize.