Wade on Birmingham

Sidewalk 2010: Sibs and the city


Movie review: ‘Gabi on the Roof in July’

By Jennifer West

Review at a glance: The actors in “Gabi on the Roof in July” used improvisation to define their tiresome, self-centered characters.

Gabi on the Roof in July

A scene from “Gabi on the Roof in July.”

Cheering for the hamster in a movie about underdogs trying to make it in the big city might be all the warning you need.

Wade on Birmingham - Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival“Gabi on the Roof in July” focuses on young artists living in New York struggling to discover themselves. Gabi leaves college for the summer to spend time with her brother Sam and escape from the emotional fallout of her parents’ divorce.

The movie screens Saturday at the Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival.

I appreciate the unique tack that writer and director Lawrence Levine took letting the actors develop their characters through improvisation, then developing the storyline of the script itself. The acting is truly great, but I found it extremely hard to identify in any way with the characters themselves.

The main character, Gabi (Sophia Takal), comes across as a spoiled and annoying child. It’s really difficult to listen to her talk even for brief moments. You just want to yell “Grow up!” at the screen each time she speaks (or strips in an attempt to be an “artist”).

Her brother Sam (Levine) is no better. At first, he seems like the only character about whom you might actually care, but he quickly blows that by adopting his sister’s self-indulgent behaviors. Neither seem to care about anyone else but themselves, which in turn makes it hard to care about them.

I lost all interest about halfway through the 99-minute runtime, making for an endless second half. Only one word comes to mind when considering the entire movie: pretentious.

I did really like one character, the hamster. He didn’t say a damn word the whole time. And just in time for the credits, the hamster finally gets put out of his misery, just like us.

Jennifer WestJennifer West (@thejenwestquest) won the Sidewalk Audience Choice award for her romantic comedy “Piece of Cake” in 2006, which she wrote and directed. She will manage the SideTalk panels at Sidewalk. And her blog, The Jen West Quest, has been featured in Health magazine.

“Gabi on the Roof in July” will screen at 11:20 a.m. Saturday at the Alabama Theatre Studio Loft. The short “Hipster Job” precedes it.

Video: Gabi and Garrett make a bet, in a scene
from “Gabi on the Roof in July.”

Video: An art dealer checks out Sam’s work,
in a scene from “Gabi on the Roof in July.”

Video: “Gabi on the Roof in July” trailer


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1 Yip for “Sidewalk 2010: Sibs and the city”

  1. Tweets that mention Wade on Birmingham » Sidewalk 2010: Sibs and the city -- Topsy.com
    Monday, September 20, 2010, 5:00 pm

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Wade Kwon, Stephen Vinson. Stephen Vinson said: RT @WadeOnTweets: #Sidewalk10: Characters in @gabiontheroof self-involved, tiresome. @thejenwestquest review: http://itswa.de/sidewalk-gabi […]

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