Movie Review: Moping our way through “Elsewhere”

The melancholy romance “Elsewhere” is like that endless home improvement project that starts with so much promise, but that your contractor never quite gets up the gumption to finish.

That would be the perfect analogy, except “Elsewhere” doesn’t irritate you — exasperate yes — and doesn’t leave you feeling used and broke when all is said and done.

“Perfect analogy” because it’s about a house. Bruno built it, lived in it with his wife. And then she died, and her rich you-know-what-heel dad takes the land back, and the house that stands on it.

We figure out a few minutes in that Lydia (Kathleen Munroe) died a couple of years ago. That opening scene surprise birthday party for Bruno, played by Aden Young of TV’s “Reckoning?” Not nearly as tactless/heartless as it might seem. His Dad’s (Beau Bridges) toast? Maybe.

“He was loyal to his wife like a DOG!”

Bruno’s an architect and a builder who’s been in a near stupor since losing Lydia. He’s “morose,” about to lose his job, and then he’s evicted. Dad is understanding, but Mom (Jacki Weaver) isn’t.

His therapeutic visits back to the woodsy, seaside Pacific Northwest house he built for lydia, to break in and clean and do “maintenance,” end when it sells. And he can’t bring himself to tell new owner Marie (Parker Posey) that he built it and lost the woman he loved while living there, and then had it taken from him.

Which is how he becomes her contractor for “renovations” which Bruno is loathe to carry out. The house is a veritable shrine to his loss, even the bad plumbing.

“I’ve never met some an OPINIONATED contractor!”

It’ll never work out, especially if his stoner-pal (Ken Jeong) can line him up with “my cousin the lawyer” (Ray Abruzzo) to sue and try and get his house back.

Young gives a deft, unmoored and sad performance, and truthfully he’s better than the movie surrounding him.

Posey is that rare actress who can’t miss, Bridges has the soft-hearted Dad thing down. Weaver? She’s here for a couple of cutesy bits and one killer, withering put-down.

We’re treated to one tender moment — not with Young’s official leading lady — and a few half-hearted jokes, many of them manhandled by Jeong. He, like Weaver, is here for a big speech which he manages with skill.

Costa Rican writer-director Hernan Jimenez (“About Us”) makes a movie that closely mirrors Bruno’s disheartened mopiness. The odd spark and eccentric touch — a character raising a family in a travel trailer — is lost in a lot of recycled bits and obvious gags, pitfalls or obstacles.

It teeters unsatisfyingly between forlorn and wistful. Looking for something more? You’ll have to find that “Elsewhere.”

MPA Rating: R for language, some sexual references and brief drug use 

Cast: Aden Young, Parker Posey, Ken Jeong, Jacki Weaver and Beau Bridges

Credits: Scripted and directed by Hernan Jimenez. A Freestyle release, on Amazon Prime.

Running time: 1:38

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
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