Written & directed by Hal Hartley
Starring Bill Sage, Parker Posey, Martin Donovan, Dwight Ewell & Miho Hikaidoh.
Opened: Dec. 20, 1996 (NY & LA) Not Rated
(Various dates elsewhere)
Love is cryptic and commitment dubious no matter what the context or who is in love. Or so says Hal Harley's "Flirt," a sexy, funny, life-affirming triple serving of the same love-triangle from three different cultures in three different cities.
New Yorker Bill Sage is given an ultimatum by girlfriend Parker Posey -- commit to her before her flight to Paris that night, or lose her to the ex she's visiting. Before deciding, the frustrated Sage solicits advice from strangers and tries to meet with his other lover -- a friend's wife -- but runs in to her gun-toting suicidal husband instead. After being grazed when the gun misfires, he is taken to the hospital and misses his deadline while confessing his lust on the operating table.
The humor (stemming largely from the advice scenes) and browsing depth of Harley's script is replayed twice more with vast alterations but the same themes and much of the same dialogue. In Berlin, a gay American has to decide between his traveling lover and a married man, and in Tokyo, an impressionable dance student, with an American filmmaker boyfriend who has just finished a project, has a crush on her teacher and his wife suspects infidelity.
Hartley trifles with each telling, re-arranging the order of events and directing in different styles while peeling off different layers of the common emotions that run through the three stories. A fresh and spirited twist on episodic filmmaking.