Breaking up is hard to do. Not so hard to film.

Ever wonder what’s really going on in your partner’s head? Writer/director Nathan Ives’ romantic comedy It’s Not You, It’s Me attempts to fill us in on the machinations behind the baffling decisions our loved ones make. The film happens to reveal more similarities than differences between men and women: Maybe pointing out that we’ve all got a bunch of disparate crazy people in our heads (the characters of It’s Not You, It’s Me exist in individual seas of alter-egos) will result in more empathy and understanding between the sexes. Maybe.

Ives grew up in Asheville and attended Guilford College in Greensboro, N.C. After graduating college in 1994, he moved to Los Angeles. “My dream would be to have a second home in Asheville and replicate Woody Allen’s career,” Ives says. “Make one independent film each year, and even shoot one in Asheville. It’s visually stunning.”

The independent film, shot entirely in Los Angeles, opens with Dave (played by Ross McCall) struggling over what to order at a coffee shop. This dilemma quickly introduces us to the conflicting agendas of the characters in his head. The voices are familiar enough that to see them as living, breathing entities is not a leap at all. Dave’s many selves consist of inner pre-adolescent boy Billy (Jake Elliott); inner sex-god Neil (Ary Katz); and inner woman Sandy (Beth Littleford), among others. As Dave walks the streets of L.A. surrounded by his entourage of imaginary characters, it’s odd, but the viewer gets it.

The plot revolves around the breakup of Dave and his love interest, Carrie (Joelle Carter), exploring their post-split dates and encounters, and their respective journeys as they attempt to make sense of it all. Carrie has an entourage in her head as well: inner strong sexy woman Gina (Vivica A. Fox); inner workout fanatic Leslie (Jessica York); and this reviewer’s personal favorite, inner hippy-guru-guy Ben (Darin Heames). Both Dave and Carrie consult, argue with and attempt to appease their internal committees throughout the film.

Most of us have been so inundated watching therapy sessions in film and television that it’s hard to transcend the cliché, but It’s Not You, It’s Me‘s Dr. Clark (Maggie Wheeler) comes off as genuine and practical. It could be because Ives researched this part of the script with the help of an ex-girlfriend-turned-therapist. Ives says, “We sat down at a sushi restaurant and I had my laptop and I asked her, ‘If I said this, what would you say?’”

Although the film is a strong directorial debut, there are a few moments that lack authenticity. Like when Dave succumbs to the sexual advances of Melissa (Amber Seyer). She pressures Dave to say, “I love you.” He does. That she buys it is the unbelievable part. Still, she is an endearingly over-the-top character, and the scene is funny. Audiences will soon discover a whole new meaning for the word “caterpillar.”

The script economically elevates even the most mundane moments by inserting a little humor, such as the banter between Dave and the bartender when Dave is reading a self-help book. Although the film hovers above the emotional landscape of breaking up, by doing so it allows the viewer the distance to laugh at one of life’s inevitable tragedies. There are many LOL moments created by the disparity between what the characters do and what they are really thinking that magically transforms breaking up into comedic material.

About Toni Sherwood
Toni Sherwood is an award-winning filmmaker who enjoys writing articles, screenplays, and fiction. She appreciates the dog-friendly, artistic community of Asheville.

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