The romantic melodrama “The Second Sun” contains a pivotal numerical coincidence of such eye-rolling — and daftly offensive — proportions that, even if the rest of the film were any good, it would be hard to narratively recoup.
But it’s just one of many unsellable moments in director Jennifer Gelfer’s first feature, based on a script by James Patrick Nelson (adapting his unproduced play), whose groanworthy dialogue must be heard to be believed.
Set in 1953 Manhattan, this stagey talkfest finds infuriatingly glass-half-full bakery server Max (John Buffalo Mailer, Norman’s son) instantly — and rather inexplicably — smitten by customer Joy (Eden Epstein), only to meet up with her again that night when she wanders into his favorite bar.
If that sounds contrived, it is, though the movie’s conceit is that the haunted Max and Joy are bashert (Yiddish for “meant to be”), what-are-the-chances silliness be damned.
What follows is a soul-bearing, love-swelling night filled with traumatic revelations, grandiose proclamations (“Being with you is like looking in the face of God!”) and the inevitable roll in the hay. Black-and-white flashbacks and mind’s-eye dance sequences ineffectively pad the film’s brief running time.
Save Mailer’s pushy “New Yawk” accent, the leads do what they can with their unconvincing characters and the rusty plot, but it’s a hopeless effort. Nice opening title sequence though.
Running time: 1 hour, 17 minutes.
Playing: Starts Aug. 16, Laemmle Music Hall, Beverly Hills; also on VOD