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Review: Once it finds its groove, ‘One Bedroom’ shows off some fresh moves

Review: Once it finds its groove, ‘One Bedroom’ shows off some fresh moves
Darien Sills-Evans and Devin Nelson in the movie "One Bedroom." (Breaking Glass Pictures)

When it finally calms down and takes a more serious look at the nitty-gritty of romantic relationships, writer-director-star Darien Sills-Evans’ micro-budget comedy “One Bedroom” offers some authentic insight into what brings people together, keeps them united and splits them apart.

This amusing, if talky tale of the breakup between Nate (Sills-Evans), a club DJ and barber, and schoolteacher Melissa (Devin Nelson) is set largely in a brownstone apartment in the filmmaker’s hometown of Brooklyn, N.Y. That is, when we’re not in the local barbershop with Nate and his broadly bantering hair-cutting buddies (Jon Laster, Chester Sims II, Freddy Sheffield) as Nate recounts what led Melissa to move out.

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The film evokes a kind of African American “Annie Hall” as it flashes back, at times in nonlinear fashion, on the good, the bad and the ugly of the Nate-Melissa pairing. Unfortunately, it overdoes — and overplays — the strident litany of he said-she said recriminations and reprisals until the lovers get to some key truths and unexpected reactions.

Not unlike the story, Sills-Evans and Nelson become more engaging as they go, allowing us to better understand their characters’ strengths and foibles — and regrets. This welcome shift allows the film to make a few fresh, final moves that feel credible and earned. Amber Reauchean Williams also hits some nice notes as Nelson’s protective BFF, Cora.

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‘One Bedroom’

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 23 minutes

Playing: Laemmle Music Hall, Beverly Hills

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