Here’s a drab little romance about a guy who might not be ready to “get back out there” because his late wife’s still in his head. Literally. He starts seeing her ghost.
And Sarah (Yael Stone) took those vows seriously, the ones that end with “As Long as We Both Shall Live.” Shouldn’t Malcolm (Josh Helman) do the same?
There are two ways you’d guess this would go. One is sad but silly, with Sarah tormenting the guy about “moving on,” or Malcolm being too reluctant to “let go.” The other is she haunts him, terrorizes the cute barmaid Nya (Jennifer Allcott), maybe even KILLS her.
That’s the Blumhouse version.
What director and co-writer Ali Askari goes for here is far more bland, not particularly romantic, not that cute, not really all that disturbing.
Sarah went out for baking soda for a cake she was forcing loving hubby Malcolm to make. She never came home. A year later, her sister (Yvonne Cone) taunts him into “rejoining society.”
His boss and partner in the Utica, NY real-estate investment business that Malcolm’s dad co-founded is Jim (Paul Sorvino), a near-hysteric who sees bankruptcy around every corner and a stroke in every breath.
“We’re all gonna DIE.”
One prospective business deal and montage of blind-dates that Dee (Cone) sets up later, he stumbles into the cute bar wench Nya. Maybe life will get better and happiness will return. Maybe he’ll tell her he’s widowed. Maybe after she hits him with this.
“Why are you moping? Moping is for losers!”
And then, just as things turn “interesting” — in the traditional use of the word, not as it’s employed here — a scolding Sarah starts appearing to Malcolm and it could all come to pieces.
Aussie “Mad Max” supporting player Helman looks a bit like Chris Pratt, only not the least bit funny. Not that the script does him any favors. There’s little cute and charming to play, other than Malcolm’s habit of saying “M’lady” to Nya on their first date.
Allcott, of “Kate Can’t Swim,” filmed after this 2016 film (just now coming out), has a Parker Posey look and a hint of perky. But as Malcolm and Nya chat and carry on in the quietest bar in America, one strains for a laugh or a taste of romance and struggles to figure out what tone they’re going for and why they aren’t hitting it.
That “quietest bar” crack is a clue. There’s little to no background life to any scenes. Static business meetings where Malcolm distractedly tries to text this free spirit who’s just entered his life, dull arguments with the dead wife here and there, a party that doesn’t have the background action to seem like a party at all.
“As Long as We Both Shall Live” is underpopulated and lifeless, as stark as Nya’s stand-up comic pal’s act, and the anemic response to it.
It’s not bad so much as not all there, although I think I’ll go as far as calling this lifeless four-handed script not worth filming.
MPA Rating: unrated, profanity, sexual situations
Cast: Josh Helman, Yael Stone, Jennifer Allcott, Yvonne Cone and Paul Sorvino
Credits: Directed by Ali Askari, scripted by Ali Askari, Joe McKernan, Golan Ramraz and Adam C. Sherer. A Boom Pictures release.
Running time: 1:37