Adam Rapp’s new film – featuring the playwright, novelist and screenwriter’s East Village neighbors Sam Rockwell and Natasha Lyonne – had its Tribeca Film Festival premiere in (where else?) the East Village last night.
Loitering with Intent is the first film directed by Rapp that he didn’t write: it was penned by Michael Godere and Ivan Martin, a winsome duo starring alongside Marisa Tomei, Rockwell, and Isabelle McNally (daughter of Balthazar baron Keith McNally). Nevertheless, the film — produced by Williamsburg-based Parts & Labor — opens just blocks from Rapp’s apartment, with scenes shot at Café Mogador and outside of Theater 80.
While talking about their flailing acting careers in Tompkins Square Park, longtime friends Dominic (Godere) and Raphael (Martin) are approached by a production assistant (Lyonne) who gives them the freak opportunity to put a script in front of her boss. Problem is, they haven’t actually written the noir detective story they’ve pitched, so they decide to escape to the country in order to do so within the 10 days they’ve been given.
And so less than 10 minutes in, the movie leaves the East Village. The rest of it is shot in Leeds, New York, but turns out to also have an East Village connection: during a post-screening Q&A at AMC Loews Village last night, Rapp revealed that the country house where the film was shot belongs to Gigi Elmes, co-owner of Atomic Passion, the beloved East Ninth Street vintage store that closed four years ago after 17 years in business.
“Her entire place was already sort of designed in the most eccentric way you could imagine,” Rapp said. “So our art department just had to kind of move things around.”
In the film, the country house belongs to Dom’s sister (Tomei), who also happens to be a store owner named Gigi. Just a day into the writing retreat, Gigi unexpectedly shows up, looking for a break from her unhinged boyfriend Wayne. It’s not long before Wayne, an ex-Navy Seal played by Rockwell, also shows up, senses that something is going on between his Gigi and her sort-of-ex, Raphael, and sets off the veritable Rube Goldberg machine of awkward, funny, and sometimes endearing interpersonal drama that makes up the rest of the movie.
If you’re looking for the dark, brooding stuff of Rapp’s plays, you won’t find it here. The film was developed in part during a road trip that Godere and Martin took with Tomei (she had to drive the whole time, she jokingly complained during the Q&A).
Rapp attached himself later, because he could relate to the material. “I’m a playwright and I’ve failed miserably and succeeded at that,” he said with obvious modesty (his play Red Light Winter was a Pulitzer finalist, he’s written for The L Word and In Treatment, and he wrote and directed Winter Passing, starring Zooey Deschanel and Will Ferrell). “When I first moved to New York City I moved in with my brother in 1991… so I know what everyone goes through in this business. I was really drawn to that journey and just guys trying to make an opportunity for themselves in this third-class citizenship thing called acting in New York City.”
Of course, Rapp is hardly a third-class citizen these days. In addition to the Tribeca premiere, his 2011 script, The Hallway Trilogy — based in a Lower East Side tenement — was published last month.
“Loitering with Intent” continues April 23 and 26. Only “rush” tickets are available, at the box office according to availability.