No Heart Feelings (2010) – By Philip Smolen

Mel (spirited Rebecca Kohler) is a young, independent woman living in Toronto. She has just broken up over the phone with her long distance lover, though he doesn’t want to end the relationship. Upset and confused, Mel tries to move on with her life. She seeks solace in her group of friends including Dawn (Amy Pagnotta). Over the course of a summer Mel slowly begins to recover emotionally. Just as she is starting to feel good about herself, her friends introduce her to handsome Lewis (Dustin Parkes), a likeable young man who clearly takes a shine to Mel. But Mel is unsure about jumping into another relationship, so she keeps Lewis at arm’s length, even after they’ve slept together. Lewis is confused. He wants to deepen his relationship with Mel, but Mel won’t let him get closer. But a weekend getaway at one of the friend’s lakeside cabin will act as a catalyst for their still developing emotional connection.

“No Heart Feelings” is a spontaneous and sincere look at a group of late 20-somethings that are just coasting through life. Long since out of school, most of them work at jobs that they dislike and have reached life’s precipice. They must now commit to being an adult (and embracing all of its baggage), or perennially remain an emotionally undeveloped child.

Writers/Directors Sarah Lazarovic, Geoff Morrison and Ryan J Noth have created an indie film that has a real Nora Ephron feel to it. While watching it I also felt echoes of the 1983 hit “The Big Chill.” Just like an Ephron film, the dialogue in “No Heart Feelings” is natural, unforced and distinctive. Mel, Lewis and the rest of the group always talk about the minutia of life in order to avoid talking about what’s really important. Their speech reflects their insecurity with each other.

I loved Rebecca Kohler. She gives Mel a real heart and soul that’s just barely visible behind the emotional wall she has so carefully built up. Dustin Parkes’s Lewis is vulnerable and genuine. He wants Mel, but she has him so confused that he’s now unsure of what he wants. The rest of the cast including Amy Pagnotta, Steve Murray, Hillary Doyle and Jason Rehel are all marvelous and flash glimpses of their characters’ own helplessness.

“No Heart Feelings” is a solid indie rom-com. Having said that, you should know that this is not a film that takes its characters from Point A to Point B. Rather, it wanders somewhat and at times seems as unsure of itself as the characters in it. And just like those characters, the film seems to be about deciding if it should attempt to move from Point A to Point B rather than actually doing it.

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