Austin Nichols, Ahna O'Reilly, Spencer Garrett
WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY
Movie Review: Match
Match is both an unusual beast of a film and a surprisingly familiar cinematic venture. Started by writer/director Sean McGinly after his original production was sabotaged by a certain pandemic, Match is a story about two people, Ian (Austin Nichols) and Jennifer (Ahna O'Reilly), who meet on an online dating site.
The relationship starts like many online relationships, and I've had more than a few. Casual flirtation quickly becomes something more seemingly intimate, intense, and fiercely promising. The back-and-forth leads to a more serious "getting to know one another" with backsgrounds being revealed and personal issues and feelings put forth. Eventually, Ahna's more clingy nature bursts forth and a sort of unrealistic romantic expectation threatens to suffocate the relationship. Ian, on the flip side, is brasher and bolder in appearance yet less secure and sure in actuality.
Interactions reveal truths, desperate and obsessive at times, filled with the reasons we're attracted and the reasons that we're not.
Shot over a period of five days in the early days of the pandemic, Match is more a film grounded within contemporary culture than it is one of the myriad of pandemic films we've been seeing. While McGinly had to deal with the pandemic, Match is far more a story of the times told using only the emails and texts the characters send to one another. While this may sound incomplete, it's surprisingly not as over time these interactions are intensely and painfully revealing of both characters and their inherent flaws and the potentially fatal flaws for any possible relationship. Modern dating culture comes to life in Match and it's not always pretty to watch.
What is pretty to watch is the work of Austin Nichols and Ahna O'Reilly, tasked with carrying a film that very much relies on their ability to sell a story by essentially talking to the camera to personify this largely digital relationship. Both performers are incredibly up to the task with both embodying their character's problems and potential with equal insight and vigor. Ian and Jennifer run the gamut of emotions and experiences here, from passionate with one another to passionately against one another and much more. Both performers portray their characters with such balance that it's for the most part difficult to take sides. Instead, one simply becomes immersed in their stories and in the familiarity of this way of dating, seeking love, learning how to relate, and dealing with life. With the wrong performers, Match would have been a painful view. Nichols and O'Reilly are sublime even when they aren't sublime together.
Lensing by Thomas Scott Stanton is inspired and creative in telling the multiple layers of this complex story. Original music by Ryan Thomas Johnson companions the film quite nicely. Kudos must be given to Charles Norris for top-notch visual effects and editing as vital components of McGinly's story.
Match is an undeniably difficult story to tell at an undeniably difficult time in American history. While it may not have been the original film that McGinly wanted to tell, we should all be grateful that he had this back-up plan and was able to assemble a stellar ensemble cast and crew to bring it all to life. Match is currently available via all your usual streaming platforms.
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic