GABI ON THE ROOF IN JULY is one of the more interesting films of Cinequest this year, and the filmmakers Lawrence Michael Levine and Sophia Takal are two of the most personable and loved of the festival this year. I am not sure it is one of the best films though.
The movie and its characters draw you in from the start. Gabi, a student of “post-fluxist feminist art”, comes to live with her older brother Sam, and there is a cast of characters that I certainly remember knowing when I was in my early 20s. Sophia Takal is strikingly beautiful and it doesn’t hurt that her character loves to be naked through most of the film. This may explain why my male friends think this film is the best ever.
I didn’t find it the best ever. There was a good story and I liked the progression and how it ended. But the characters turn out to be mostly unlikeable. Gabi especially moves from very immature behavior to possibly crazy. Sam behaves badly with his girlfriend. And all females in this film are shown as extremely possessive and insecure. I suppose I most liked irresponsible Garrett and silent Charles, in comparison to the other unlikeable characters.
That said, overall I think it’s a good film with some problems. We were warned about profanity and nudity before the film started, and while neither bothers me, I do have a problem with swearing for the sake of swearing. It was overused a bit in the beginning. The actors did a great job and were very comfortable in their roles; I think the biggest surprise to me was what a great presence Lawrence had on screen. But there needed to be someone to root for. I think Gabi was actually more likable as emotional issues were finally becoming clear, but for the first half she was just a very annoying child. I do think overall there was more good than bad.
Yes, you should probably see this film. You may or may not enjoy it very much, but I doubt you would hate it. The actors are talented and beautiful; in fact one of my notes reads: “EXACTLY where is this place where everyone is beautiful and naked??” It IS a good story. Just don’t expect a 5 star film.
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