I’ve often discovered actors via Joss Whedon’s projects that I want to follow elsewhere. Fran Kranz — the creepy science geek on Dollhouse and the young Claudio in Whedon’s version of Much Ado About Nothing — is one of them.
Kranz stars in Lust for Love, a Kickstarted indy romantic comedy now available at iTunes and on demand via cable companies. Amazon Prime members can watch Lust for Love free. (You can tell it was crowd-sourced, since the list of Associate Producers on the movie is ridiculously long.)
Kranz’s Astor is in love with Mila (Beau Garrett, Tron: Legacy). He has been since they were four years old together. Unfortunately, they’ve just broken up. You can’t really blame her, since he really is sappy, going overboard with cliched romantic gestures once they were finally together.
Their friend Cali (Dichen Lachman, also of Dollhouse) says Mila wants a confident ladies’ man. Astor is sexually and relationship-inexperienced, so Cali’s going to teach him how to pick up girls. She coaches him not to be too sweet, trying to give him the attitude and edge that the women think he needs.
Mila (Beau Garrett), Astor (Fran Kranz), and Cali (Dichen Lachman) in Lust for Love
A bunch more Dollhouse alumni also make appearances. Enver Gjokaj is a tough-guy rival for Mila’s feelings. Miracle Laurie is one of the women Astor approaches, and Felicia Day briefly plays an attempted bar pickup. Lachman also produced the film, and writer/director Anton King is a fellow Australian (and her ex).
Lust for Love reminded me of Crazy, Stupid, Love, only with younger characters and with a lot less heart and humor. It’s earnest, just like its lead character. I first heard “Asta” for “Astor”, which made me think of the dog in The Thin Man. It’s not a bad comparison, since Franz is puppylike, warm and realistic in his performance.
Unfortunately, much of the dialogue is artificial, particularly when Dichen has to recite “what girls think” as though she’s an encyclopedia. Her performance comes off as mannered, but perhaps that’s because I thought her role made more sense for a guy. I did appreciate that she looked different, though. I think she’s very attractive, particularly since the other women in the movie fit much the same mold in terms of appearance.
I also couldn’t figure out what Astor saw in Mila. She gets a speech late in the movie about what she wants, and it’s muddled, although the bits about only being treated as a pretty face hint at more potential depth to her character that’s not otherwise on view here.
As in any romantic comedy, you see the end coming far away. When it arrived, although I was hoping for it, I didn’t find it particularly plausible or completly understand how we got there. It seemed to need characters to change their minds just because the plot now required it. The best part of the movie is Kranz’s performance, and I’ll definitely check out other things he does. Here’s the trailer: