Review by Mark Schwab
March 24th, 2016
Once in awhile an indie film comes along that has an attractive cast, nice cinematography and solid production values all around yet still can't quite hit the target. Such is the case with Brendan Prost's SENSITIVE PARTS - a well-meaning but ultimately unsuccessful attempt to probe the depths of love, friendship and infidelity between best girlfriends.
Carolyn Yonge stars as Dolore, an insecure young woman who starts to take some baby steps in doing the boyfriend thing with Riun (Sean Marshall Jr.). They've just begun the "fooling around" stage when Dolore learns that her closest friend Sinead (Jennifer Kobelt) is moving back into town after spending a year abroad. So, Dolore finally has a boyfriend, her best friend is coming back into her life...everything is falling into place, right?
Now up to this point, SENSITIVE PARTS has been moving at a pleasant enough pace as we watch Dolore slowly coming out of her shell with Riun. The character study was keeping its head above water. It's when Sinead is introduced to Riun that the movie begins to trip over itself unfortunately. The key problem for me was when a secret, drunken one-night stand from six years ago between Riun and Sinead comes to light. Dolore, upon learning this, goes completely and totally to pieces. Over one night. Six years ago. The early scenes between Dolore and Riun didn't suggest a scorched earth friendship/relationship policy. Over one night. Six years ago. I found myself taken aback watching these performers get mired in a plot that takes itself way too seriously. There are a lot of intense conversations and furrowed brows over this one night. Six years ago. It becomes too repetitious with the charcters saying the same angst but using different words. It made me think this story could have been told in 15 minutes instead of 70. There is also an imaginary friend named Fierce that hangs around Dolore who unfortunately comes off as just a gimmick instead of moving the story along or providing development into Dolore's psyche. If you introduce a supernatural-type character (or any character really) that has multiple scenes with your protagonist, make sure they count. Here, you could take Fierce out of the movie and nothing would change.
There is one great scene though which I wish director Prost had used to inspire the tone for the rest of the film. It's when Sinead suggests to Dolore that she hook up with one of her (Sinead's) old boyfriends in a local bar. You know, just to make things "even" between the two of them. I was cringing at the idea of this set up but once the scene gets into motion, the movie really comes alive. This sequence is funny, surprising and sharply acted, written and directed. You start to see what this cast and writer/director Prost are capable of. I really wish SENSITIVE PARTS had maintained some of that insight throughout the movie. Unfortunately, that bar sequence is so good that it highlighted the weakness of the rest of the film for me.
The more I think about it, the more frustrated I am with this movie. All of the pieces are here to make a great indie film. The cast is dedicated to creating distinct characters (Jennifer Kobelt as Sinead is particularly good), it looks wonderful, the Vancouver locations are well-utilized...clearly Brendan Prost and his indie co-horts know how to make a professional film on a budget (no small feat). I would certainly be interested in seeing more from this group but ultimately SENSITIVE PARTS ends up being like a football team up
54-0 at halftime and still finding a way to lose the game.