Overview: An unlikely romance between Vincent, a young small-town loner and Roxxy, a young woman on the run, turns to tragedy when Roxxy’s past catches up with her. Unified Pictures; 2017; Rated R; 102 minutes.
Tone Trouble: Stories of love between unlikely partners, while well-trodden territory, can always be approached in novel ways, especially if the partners in question provide something new in terms of an interesting dynamic, setting, or concept. Vincent N Roxxy desperately wants to put its leads through trauma and violence to heighten the emotional stakes; what begins as small-town romance with a retro sensibility becomes something far more sinister. Unfortunately this transition is too stark, too late, and too under-established to make the two halves of the film feel even slightly related.
Vincent (Emile Hirsch), a small town mechanic saves Roxxy (Zoë Kravitz) from an abusive man attempting to kill her. Vincent and his brother JC (Emory Cohen) take her in, but her past, as well as JC’s impulsive behavior, plague the two, and draw them into a world of violence and eventually murder. The film begins with violence and ends with violence, and in between are two people aiming to grasp human connection despite the circumstances in which they find themselves.
Vincent and Roxxy have potential as characters, but exploration of them as individuals or as a couple is traded for an incongruous plot that arrives far too late. Vincent N Roxxy ends in overblown scenes of violence that undercut the potential complexity of their relationship.
Commitment to Cool: Vincent and Roxxy, despite the tragic pasts that inform their withdrawn behavior, emit a sense of cool to which writer and director Gary Michael Schultz seems more committed than any other aspect of their characterization. The two, particularly Vincent, are quiet, brooding, mumbling, and lost in the most aesthetically appealing way possible, and this can begin to feel uninteresting very quickly.
While early interactions between Vincent and Roxxy, as the two fall in love, inject some much-needed variation to their characters and also allow their relationship explanation, in general they feel cold and stiff. Minor characters JC and Kate (Zoey Deutch) are more interesting to watch by far. They are captivating to watch from the start, emotive and varied in a way that Vincent and Roxxy are too tragically cool to be.
Schultz’s writing does the leads no favors. The dialogue almost always feels empty and cliché, and is rarely used in service of exploring anything new in its characters. Thus the story of their relationship rings false from the start, ambiguous motivations accompanied by bland dialogue. The attraction and affinity the two feel toward each other seems random and unmotivated and as such the violence that befalls them lacks the emotional weight it should.
Death and Dissonance: The dissonance between the first and second halves of this film is remarkable, disturbing in a way that borders on humorous. This film does not believe in the emotional weight and appeal of its main couple and their emotional states, and simply chooses to abandon them to pursue an entirely different film. The absolute chaos of the last third of this film has no aesthetic, tonal or thematic consistency with the rest of the film. Vincent N Roxxy becomes a film without subtlety and without focus, and with nothing to say about its characters or what befalls them.
An ominous tone and compelling themes of isolation and desperation that are planted early on are left unremarked upon, and any development of the main characters’ relationship is undercut by an ending that resorts to exploitative levels of violence that is neither established nor resolves the central themes of the film.
Closing: Vincent and Roxxy are characters that have potential as young adults who are the tragic result of their environment, but unfortunately the two remain vaguely troubled, and vaguely tragic throughout. There is no emotional impact to what is presented as a devastating conclusion to their story, but is instead a cartoonish, tasteless, and meaningless explosion of violence.
Featured Image: Vertical Entertainment