Doing Therapy (2006) – By Tiffany Apan

Call me ‘dark and morose,’ but I’ve never been one for romantic comedies. Mainly because I normally find “The Creature from the Black Lagoon” to be more realistic than the over-the-top sappiness found in many of the over-produced, formulaic ‘rom-coms.’ But every once in a while, I will come across one I actually find entertaining and enjoyable (for example, last month when I gave “A Fairy Tale” a well-deserved positive review). But for the most part, I feel as though I need to be carrying my teeth in a bag due to the saccharine that is so laden throughout many of the bonafide ‘chick flicks.’ I will say that for this reason, I was a little apprehensive at first when first skimmed the synopsis of “Doing Therapy.” But, I like to give things a chance and I always try to approach these reviews in as unbiased a manner as possible. I found “Doing Therapy” to be a rather unique film and not your typical romantic comedy. In fact, I’m not sure I would even completely classify it as a romantic-comedy as it seems to be made up of a couple different genre elements. It is sort of a drama mixed in with romantic comedy and a touch of a suspense thriller…

“Doing Therapy” tells the story of a successful, Hollywood actress named Diane Rischard (Barbara Winters) and her need to find a cure for her recent bouts with on-camera anxiety for the sake of her livelihood and career. At her uncle’s recommendation, she flies from Hollywood to Pittsburgh (and I will say that there are MANY Pittsburgh references in the film) to see a therapist by the name of Dr. Joe Giacobello (portrayed by Joe Giaccobello) in order to help Diane get to the source of her anxiety. We immediately are introduced to the fact that the two characters are as different as night and day and the challenge presented to them in learning to co-exist with one another. Despite his success as a therapist, Joe’s living conditions hardly reflect that. It is also obvious that Diane is used to living in luxury and needs to adjust to living in a bachelor’s pad for a month. As the story unfolds, we see the relationship of these two individuals develop. It is also revealed that both Diane and Joe have fears each one must face in order to be able to move forward in their lives. The story also has a twist when we are introduced to an obsessed stalker (David Dietz) who is threatening Diane.

“Doing Therapy” is an overall light-hearted piece with a few darker twists. Like many romantic comedies, the story can be a bit predictable but I will say that I found myself wanting to see it through to the end (and not just because I had to review it). The movie does have some rather touching moments. Examples of this would be Joe recalling the death of his fiancée, Diane discovering an old letter Joe wrote to his fiancée, and Diane’s stalker looking back at his childhood with an abusive mother. The scenes with the stalker give the film a little added “punch” and keep it from being just another typical romantic comedy. The acting is overall pretty well done on everyone’s part, although there are times when some of the actors seemed a little over the top. The performances that really stood out for me were David Dietz as the Crazed Stalker (there are times he’s just downright scary) and Joe Giacobello’s role as Dr. Giacobello. From the moment Giacobello is on screen, he comes across as very likeable and you want him to succeed at not only ‘getting the girl’ but also with conquering his own demons. In fact, you want every character you are introduced to succeeding in their life paths. The characters and their development seemed to be very well thought out. The cinematography fluctuates. At times, the film has a very professional look and quality while other times the camera was a tad bit shaky. But, they did make excellent use of various camera angles and I liked many of the choices in their locations. I did, at first, have a slight issue with the way the ending of the movie played out. I don’t want to give too much of it away, but one of my initial reactions were “a Hollywood movie set with no security???” This especially struck me as odd since Diane has a stalker after her. But when I looked up the “Doing Therapy” IMDb page, it is explained that the film is also meant to have the sort of simplicity found in many 1950s melodramas. The more I looked into the film and what Giacobello (who, by the way, also wrote, directed, and produced the film in addition to starring in it) was going for with this film, the more such an ending actually started to make sense to me. Perhaps I was just overanalyzing it instead of just enjoying it for what it was.

Overall, I will say that “Doing Therapy” is a very enjoyable film. It’s another I ended up watching a few times (and that’s coming from someone who typically isn’t a fan of romantic comedies). Joe Giacobello could have taken the easy way out and just made a typical, rot your teeth, romantic comedy. But he took some risks with this one and I always like that in a filmmaker. Taking risks that you probably wouldn’t find in a typical Hollywood produced romantic comedy. I will give “Doing Therapy” the green light and say that it is worth checking out. You can find out more about Joe Giacobello and his production company (along with picking this movie up on DVD), Bello Films, the official website http://bellofilms.com.