Wistful, melancholy and sadly incomplete, “A Case of Blue” wanders into a new retiree’s drift into his past as a way of owning up to a present he’s checked out of.
It’s a fine showcase for its stars, but a little frustrating to grapple with because of all it leaves out in its 80 downbeat minutes.
Richard, played by dulcet-voiced TV veteran Stephen Schnetzer (“Another World,” various “Law & Orders”), gets a surprise party on the day he retires from his accounting job, and lots of looks of concern from his wife (Tracy Shayne) and daughter (Ursula Abbott) when he gets home.
“Stop pretending to be the Rock of Gibraltar,” his wife complains. Their concern seems more a plot contrivance than anything we can see on his face or in his behavior. But like all retirees, Richard needs something to focus on. That’s why his daughter gave him the gift of life drawing classes with a New York college. He wanted to be an artist before he settled on a “career” and a more normal life.
The classes give him deja vu from the start. They’re in the same studio where he studied as a teen some 50 years before, with the same “one minute pose” exercises. And then there’s the day an exotic beauty comes in to model for them.
Richard is literally slack-jawed when (Annapurna Sriram of “In Case of Emergency” and TV’s “The Black List”) disrobes. She’s the spitting image of his first great love, also an artist’s model, from back in his student days.
When she sees how he’s drawing her — “That’s not how I posed” — she’s a little freaked out. Richard wonders if he’s imagining this seeming rift in time. His old work pal (Ken Baltin) figures this is “some serious ‘Twilight Zone’ s–t!”
Richard isn’t subtle when he tries to find out her name when she abruptly stops posing for the class. He stalks her via a poster she hung up for a folk singer friend scheduled to perform at New York’s famed Cafe Wha, still a folk venue as it was when Richard was young.
They kick him out when she sets eyes on him. It’s only when he risks getting punched by her date (Jay Devore) that enough information is exchanged to explain some of what’s going on. Her name is Amelia. He must have been in love with her grandmother, Marcy.
“You know how creepy this is, right?”
A “relationship,” of sorts, begins between the retiree from New Jersey’s Volvo suburbs and the NoHo/SoHo “Bohemian” Amelia, an artist herself and a “magnet” for Washington Square Park “misfit” lads from art, music, Wall Street or wherever.
Writer-director Dana H. Glazer (“Intermezzo,” and the documentaries “Parents of the Revolution” and “The Evolution of Dad”) lays out expectations of a late life crisis drama/male wish fulfillment fantasy and wisely sets out to upend those expectations.
But the “creepy” vibe isn’t disarmed with the vivacious Amelia’s wisecrack, and Richard’s decision to join her and her entourage for a costume party in a club is merely a showcase for “old guy in the club” jabs.
“Don’t set off your Life Alert bracelet!” “Why aren’t you at the nursing home?”
Amelia’s motivations — either as real-life temptation or imagined life-crisis fantasy — are never made clear.
And Richard’s “journey” seems stumbling, abrupt and missing a few steps — make that SEVERAL steps — on the road from “lost since retirement” to “purpose.”
The players make “A Case of Blue” pleasant enough to sit through, but the movie plays like an appetizer that never amounts to more than an appeteaser.
Cast: Stephen Schnetzer, Annapurna Sriram, Tracy Shayne, Jay Devore and Ken Baltin
Credits: Scripted and directed by Dana H. Glazer. A 1091 release.
Running time: 1:21