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Review: Comedy ‘Rainbow Time’ explores awkwardness of desire

Timm Sharp, left, Linas Phillips and Melanie Lynskey in the movie "Rainbow Time."
Timm Sharp, left, Linas Phillips and Melanie Lynskey in the movie “Rainbow Time.”
(Nathan M. Miller / The Orchard)

Writer-director Linas Phillips pushes the “comedy of awkwardness” to uncomfortable new levels in “Rainbow Time,” a movie that’s admirably provocative, even if at times it seems to be more interested in being challenging than being entertaining.

Phillips casts himself as Shonzi, a high-functioning developmentally disabled adult who makes life difficult for his brother Todd (Timm Sharp), because he says whatever’s on his mind, and he’s obsessed with sex. Melanie Lynskey plays Lindsay, Todd’s feminist girlfriend, who would ordinarily be grossed out by a porn-hound like Shonzi but who sees in his simplicity an opportunity to enlighten him about how women want to be treated.

“Rainbow Time” has some complex things to say about human sexuality, not just via Shonzi but also via Todd, who has some kinks of his own that he’s ashamed of, and even Lindsay, who thinks of herself as sex-positive but is creeped out by the baseness of male lust.

There’s also a meta quality to “Rainbow Time,” as Shonzi dabbles in amateur filmmaking, shooting videos that express a juvenile fascination with violence and nudity. At its best, Phillips’ movie digs deep into how seemingly smart, sensitive people can be embarrassed when it comes to their desires.

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But outside of introducing a trio of fascinating characters and a handful of their friends and relations, this feels more like an improv exercise than a film. It’s not exactly side-splittingly funny, and it doesn’t amount to much. The ideas are strong, but the storytelling’s practically nonexistent.

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‘Rainbow Time’

Not rated

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Running time: 1 hour, 32 minutes

Playing: Arena Cinelounge, Hollywood

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