“Twelve Thirty” is a stark,
minimalist film about awkward relationships. Director
Jeff Lipsky (“Flannel Pajamas”) seemingly wants the viewer to get
uncomfortable along with his characters. Many
genteel moviegoers will decline that invitation, but the more adventurous ones
will find a curiously conflicted “indie” film that’s difficult to stop
Jeff (Jonathan Groff) works at a
restaurant with Mel (Portia Reiners), and while in a close-encounter
conversation in the storage closet, they admit to each other their mutual
attraction. Jeff plays the halting
innocent (“I’ve never really been with a woman before”) which excites
Mel even more---you know, initiating the novitiate, and all that.
So they first go to “The Church of the Open Door,” where he says he
visits frequently to meditate, which she thinks is odd, considering she
intends to seduce him, and when they find the door locked, she excuses herself
to relieve herself in the bushes-----an irony about sexuality and religion?
Still professing her interest in “hooking up” with him, they go to her
house, where she lives with her Mom and her older sister, but both happen to
be spending the night elsewhere, so Mel blatantly offers herself to Jeff, and
the next morning continues to be playfully sexual with him, even in the
laundry room, but after that, she suddenly loses interest.
Now Mel’s older sister, Maura (Mamie
Gummer), in the same bedroom where Jeff and Mel had played the previous
weekend, has a frank sexual conversation with her sleepover friend, Irina
(Halley Feiffer), who encourages her to arrange her first experience, and the
next person she meets at a party is….Jeff, who again plays the “I’ve
Never Done This Before” card, but Maura’s reluctance turns into resistance
in the darkness of the closeted passion, and the uncomfortableness here, for
the viewer, is not the obscured visual nudity, but the stark nakedness of
Jeff’s forceful insistence after Maura has asked him to stop.
Again, Jeff’s blandishments are
rejected, but undaunted, he comes by the house to look for Mel, and going
upstairs unannounced he finds…Mom,Vivian (Karen Young) in her see-through
bra. Abandonment of modesty leads to
lowering of defenses, which leads to….you guessed it.
The family trifecta.
Enter the ex-husband-now-happily-gay
bull male, who calls a family meeting, including Jeff, where his threats of
physical punishment for Maura causes a revulsion, then a repentance, of sorts,
for Jeff, who hastily beats a retreat, which, it turns out, is what all of
them wanted to see. So here we are,
incredibly sexually dysfunctional, and emotionally truncated, as well, but
this is supposed to be life as it is really lived?
Or maybe Writer/Director Jeff Lipsky’s vision of isolated
is more intensely visceral than any of us can stand.
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Co-Pastor, United