Easier With Practice (2009) – By Cary Conley

Brian Geraghty (The Hurt Locker, We are Marshall) stars as Davy, a 28-year-old wannabe writer who works as an occasional office temp .  He and his crass brother are on a road trip to promote Davy’s unpublished book.  Bookish, self-conscious, and socially inept, Davy muddles through readings at bars and tiny bookstores while he watches his brother drink and pick up girls, forcing Davy to sleep in the car instead of the hotel room.

Davy is beginning to think that his promotional tour is a mistake when out of the blue he receives a phone call from a total stranger.  The woman calls herself Nicole and coaxes Davy to have phone sex with her.  Davy proves to be just as inept over the phone as in real life, but as the phone calls continue the phone sex becomes “easier with practice;” thus starts a fantasy relationship that neither Davy nor Nicole is ready for.

As the relationship blossoms, Davy turns away girl after girl as his obsession grows.  While the phone sex is satisfying, Davy and Nicole also begin to share their secret desires and their dreams.  Davy becomes insistent on meeting Nicole, but Nicole keeps putting him off.  Returning from the road, Davy rekindles an old love affair with a woman he hasn’t seen in several years but is unable to perform sexually due to his guilt about “cheating” on his fantasy lover.  As his relationship with Nicole sours, Davy becomes angry with Nicole, causing the phone calls to come to an abrupt end.  Davy’s life spirals downward into depression.  Finally, Nicole calls back and agrees to meet Davy.  What transpires at the meeting is shocking, to say the least.  In a surprise twist ending, Davy realizes that his relationship with Nicole was purely a fantasy and that he must move on with his life.  Will Davy forgive Nicole for this one last transgression?  Will he be able to move forward with his own life now that he has resolved his fantasy relationship?  I don’t want to give away the ending, but I found the final scene particularly satisfying and pleasing.

Based on a true story from GQ magazine, writer/director Kyle Patrick Alvarez has created an alternately touching and heartbreaking romantic drama.  Alvarez handles the mature subject matter deftly, ensuring that the sexually-charged dialogue doesn’t cheapen the production.  Including frank sexual dialogue that garnered the film an NC-17 rating, the film explores themes of isolation and loneliness in what is a sensitive and poignant film.  This is Alvarez’s first production, and it is a tour-de-force of raw emotion.  The acting is superb across the board, but Geraghty’s performance as the shyly awkward misfit Davy is wonderful.  If his performances in We are Marshall and The Hurt Locker haven’t already made him a star, this film ought to.

Alvarez also proves he can handle humor, too, as there are several comedic scenes that lighten what could have become a very heavy-handed film.  At least one scene made me laugh out loud.  The film score is wonderful as well and is used with great effect.

Easier With Practice is a fine film that deserves a wide audience, and I look forward to seeing what Alvarez has on tap for his next project.  For more information, go to www.easierwithpractice.com.