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Los Angeles Times

Just One Time


Friday March 23, 2001

     "Just One Time" begins as blithely as countless other New York romantic comedies but takes a turn that gives it another dimension--and also lots of laughs. During its fast-moving 92 minutes, it raises consciousness in a number of directions while being good-natured fun throughout. Wisdom and humor, some of it broad and boisterous, dovetail in this modestly budgeted venture which grew out of writer-director-star Lane Janger's well-received short film of the same name.
     Janger's Anthony is a good-looking fireman engaged to Joelle Carter's pretty attorney, Amy. They live together in an East Village apartment and are to marry in about two weeks. Anthony is blue-collar in his attitudes, while Amy is more sophisticated. Anthony hangs out with his macho firehouse pals (Vincent Laresca, Domenick Lombardozzi, David Lee Russek). He longs for Amy to fulfill his voyeuristic fantasy by having sex with another woman before they walk down the aisle.
     So fired up is Anthony by his dream that he doesn't grasp that his request to Amy to fulfill it might strike her as a bit crass. Worse yet, he persists to the point that Amy is beginning to think about breaking up with him. She is sufficiently confused and overwrought to discuss it with Victor (Guillermo Diaz), a gay neighbor. Since Victor finds Anthony "totally hot" and has a crush on him, he admits he would go along with just about anything Anthony would ask of him if he were lucky enough to be Anthony's lover. Victor has given her an inspiration: She will fulfill Anthony's fantasy--provided Anthony and Victor make love first, reasoning that turnabout is fair play.
     So Amy shoves Victor into Anthony's evening out with his fellow firefighters. While Anthony is wondering how he'll ever get around Amy's edict, she in turn eventually lines up for herself another neighbor, the stunning, sultry Michelle (Jennifer Esposito), a lesbian who refinishes furniture for her nifty nearby antique shop.
     Janger and co-writer Jennifer Vandever make Amy's stance reverberate like the proverbial tossed stone causing ripples in a still pond. Anthony is amazed to discover that his buddies, once past the usual posturing and derogative attitudes toward gays, find themselves relaxing and enjoying themselves at a gay disco Victor has taken them to.
     Sex in "Just One Time" stays more in its characters' heads than in their beds, as Anthony and Amy begin to realize the difference between fantasy and the reality of acting it out. Anthony starts taking a more enlightened view of gays while Amy discovers the possibility of fluidity in sexual orientation, whether or not she chooses to act upon it.
     In "Just One Time," sexual fantasy gives way to a consideration of values without being heavy-handed. Janger draws winning performances from everyone, including Mickey Cottrell as Anthony's wonderfully unctuous parish priest. Janger and Vandever send Anthony and Amy on a journey of self-discovery and, in so doing, they reveal just how much can be made of an unpretentious genre film.

Just One Time, 2001. Unrated. A Cowboy Booking International and Alliance Atlantis presentation in association with Danger Filmworks. Director Lane Janger. Producers Lane Janger, Jasmine Kosovic, Exile Ramirez. Executive producers Marcus Hu, Charlotte Mickie, David R. Ginsburg. Screenplay by Lane Janger and Jennifer Vandever; from a story by Janger. Cinematographer Michael St. Hilaire. Editor Mitch Stanley. Music Edward Bilous. Costumes Melissa Bruning. Production designer Stephen J. Beatrice. Art director Andrew J. Biscotini. Running time: 1 hour, 32 minutes. Lane Janger as Anthony. Joelle Carter as Amy. Guillermo Diaz as Victor. Jennifer Esposito as Michelle.

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