I haven’t made up my mind about James Toback. I’ve seen some of his movies and while none of them seem to leave me cold, none of them excite me in a way that makes me want to run out and partake in the James Toback film catalog.
In Two Girls and a Guy James Toback explores a twisted love triangle, one that was entered into with out either girl knowing they were a part of a triangle. At the open we have extroverted Lou and rational Carla, pretty girls in their mid-twenties waiting on the front stoop of their boyfriend’s apartment building. As the girls start to talk they quickly make an alarming realization – both of their boyfriend is the same man, Blake Allen. Together Lou & Carla break into Blake’s apartment and wait for him to return. Once Blake arrives they confront him and the three get down and dirty emotionally as the girls try to uncover what is the truth about Blake and what is a lie, all the while Blake does everything in his power to avoid any kind of direct moment with the girls that will make him look like the bad guy, and he worries about the fragile state of his mother.
What is amazing about Two Girls and a Guy is watching Robert Downey Jr. in the midst of his dark, drug induced days. This film came out in 1997, before Downey’s jail time, and while he was slowly drowning in his self-inflicted flaws. The crazy thing is that watching this movie you can visible see the difference between Downey then and now, somehow now having been broken and reached rock bottom he is clearer and his focus and understanding of life come through his eyes and his performance. It makes me wonder where Downey would be now if he hadn’t gotten cleaned up; would he have gone the way of River Phoenix or would he have ended up more along the lines of Charlie Sheen? It makes me incredibly glad that Downey did hit rock bottom and manage to bounce back again, a talent like his is one that needs to be shared.
After watching Two Guys and a Girl I am sure that with a refresher on my basic psych principles or even if forced to dig deeper in a film class, that there are a lot of textual layers to that film. Carla, Lou and Blake are such distinct, flawed characters that the film could only get deeper with further analysis. Blake is also a character that needs study; man or woman you have to admit that what Blake does to these girls is hideous but somehow all of his arguments start to make sense along the way and occasionally you actually feel bad for the man.
While I still don’t have an opinion on James Toback I do think that his films might require further viewing. I am just not going to rush out to see them all immediately.
Director & Writer: James Toback
Lou Johnson: Natasha Gregson Wagner
Carla Bennett: Heather Graham
Blake Allen: Robert Downey Jr.
Blake Allen: I may have been hiding parts of my life from both of you to avoid causing pain. But I didn't say anything to either one of you that I didn't whole-heartedly mean.
Carla: If you believe what you just said it's worse than if you don't.