Review

Unconventional 'In Stereo' explores love in three time-twisted parts

In the unconventional love story "In Stereo," writer-director Mel Rodriguez III bounces between the two individuals who form one relationship.

In a prologue, we meet David (Micah Hauptman) and Brenda (Beau Garrett), on the cusp of a breakup. Eighteen months later, they've both moved on and find themselves in worse situations. On the eve of his major photography show, David suspects his girlfriend is cheating with his best friend, and actress Brenda's career is on the rocks.

Rodriguez divides the story into three sections: David, Brenda, then David and Brenda. David's section is chaotic, nonlinear and confusing, while the latter two, unfolding naturally, are much more affecting. There's no reason for the time-twisted storytelling: It serves only to leave us on unsteady ground and suspicious of our protagonist.

David and Brenda are introduced to us as miserable, angry people, but that changes as circumstances have them reuniting with a shared apartment. The luminous Garrett shines as Brenda, emerging from her shell. Hauptman manages to sand down David's spiky edges. The supporting characters, unfortunately, are two-dimensional and less charismatic.

Clear, light-filled cinematography is anchored by artful Steadicam shots and a heavy use of split screen. That, and a funky soul score, serve as the backdrop for Manhattan real estate transactions intertwined with complicated romantic relationships.

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"In Stereo."

No MPAA rating.

Running time: 1 hour, 35 minutes.

Playing: Laemmle's Music Hall 3, Beverly Hills; Laemmle's Playhouse 7, Pasadena.

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