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Offbeat ‘Fools’ weaves a romantic fantasy world for two troubled strangers

Offbeat ‘Fools’ weaves a romantic fantasy world for two troubled strangers
Michael Szeles plays Sam in "Fools." (Indie Rights)

Two imaginative misanthropes connect over a wordless interaction on a Chicago train in the offbeat romantic drama "Fools," written and directed by Benjamin Meyers. Both Sam (Michael Szeles) and Susan (Mary Cross), find themselves in various states of arrested development. Sam is continually getting fired from jobs by his mother's ex-lovers, while Susan fails at relationships and is eventually booted from her apartment by her pregnant roommate. With no place to go, she ends up on Sam's doorstep, and the two enter into an elaborate shared fantasy world.

Almost playing a game of improv, the two "yes and" each other's fabrications into an elaborate lie that encompasses an imagined past relationship. Susan pretends to be a Hungarian princess with a violent back story, and Sam declares he's the the son of a Soviet method actor. Together, they weave a home life with room for just two.

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As the tall tales crash into the real world, it's clear that the lies have been coping mechanisms for these individuals troubled by grief, loss and profound absence in their lives. These wild narratives are a way to obfuscate the sad realities they face. It's an interesting concept and "Fools" executes it well enough, though too often it leans on ambiguity and odd interactions. Szeles imbues his performance with a humanity that is missing from what is a rather cold portrayal from Cross. While Sam and Susan may be fools, they're fools together.

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'Fools'

No rating

Running time: 1 hour, 31 minutes

Playing: Arena Cinema, Hollywood

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