EDITOR’S NOTE: This review was original published as part of indieWIRE’s coverage of the 2009 Sundance Film Festival. “Peter and Vandy” opens this Friday in theaters.
A pointlessly disjointed romantic comedy, Jay DePietro’s “Peter and Vandy” never gets as clever as the filmmaker clearly wishes it could be. DePietro’s script, based on his own play, investigates the ups and downs of young New York lovers Peter (Jason Ritter) and Vandy (Jess Weixler), whose reasons for staying together seem constantly out of focus. Although both actors put considerable effort into creating distinctive characters, any impact from these performances is lost due to the oddly nonlinear plot design: DePietro jumps back forth to different time periods in the relationship with little regard for coherence or narrative effect. At one moment, Peter and Vandy are happily embarking on their inaugural date; then, they’re squabbling about why things won’t work out.
Theoretically, this type of progression could develop a rhythm of its own, but DePietro’s dialogue has virtually no permanence. When a lengthy argument scene involves the semantics of making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, you know something isn’t working right. When the movie returns to the PB&J conundrum several scenes later, it becomes clear that there was nothing working in the first place.