Parlavecchio plays Jack, a typical Jersey twentysomething, still living with his parents, working a decent if unspectacular job at a nursing home which will never afford him much upward mobility. He’s been dating Susan (Stacie Mistysyn of “Degrassi High”) off and on for seven years, and they’ve settled into a comfortable routine of pizza and movie dates, unless her parents are out themselves, which gives them a bit of time for an intimate encounter. Jack’s parents, his friends at work and even his younger brother openly wonder why Jack hasn’t proposed to Susan yet. There is no real answer, because he doesn’t know. He knows he loves Susan, even if he can’t say the words.
At the suggestion of one of his coworkers, Jack heads into the “foreign territory” of the Big Apple, to visit some hip new club. By chance, these two flannel wearing guys get in, and the next thing Jack knows, he’s having a conversation with Sam (newcomer Jill Wolfe), an up and coming model that seems impressed Jack works with older people. They only speak for a couple moments before she must leave, but she gives him her phone number and asks him to call her next week after she returns from a show overseas. Any other person might think he was getting the brush off and a fake number, but Jack decides to call. His fortitude is rewarded with a date that week, meeting her at a SoHo loft where she is doing a shoot. Soon, Jack is leading a double life, carefully balancing his Jersey world to fit in as much time as possible with Sam in the city. He still sees Susan from time to time and feels some guilt in cheating on her, and worries his duplicity might be discovered when a photo of himself and Sam shows up in the Post.
Which life will Jack pickr Even Jack admits this is strange, commenting to one friend at the nursing home “Guy from Jersey meets globetrotting foxr These things only happen in the movies.” Jack’s father (Nascarella), a second generation operator of a flower shop, tells his son of a time in his youth when a similar situation arose in his past, when the only thing stopping him from asking a beautiful model out was his fear of not being good enough for her. Not that the father has any regrets over his life. He loves his wife and his children, and urges his eldest to do what he feels is best for himself no matter what anyone else thinks.
It is at the end where this carefully paced film falls apart somewhat. In one scene, Jack and Sam are having dinner, where she asks him what he wants. His answer is that he wants to marry her. But in the very next scene, we are at the reception for Jack’s marriage to Susan. Jack doesn’t appear to be resigned or bitter, but relieved if anything. His father pulls him aside to hear the rest of the story we did not see the first time around, and we are back in the restaurant with Sam, hearing the rest of Jack’s explanation of why he must call off their relationship.
Director Zois got his start working with maverick New York filmmaker Abel Ferrera, who directed two movies, “New Rose Hotel” and “Black Out,” written by his father Christ Zois. Father and son co-wrote the script here, and the scenes between Mr. Nascarella and Mr. Parlavecchio are the backbone that make the movie work as well as it does. While the film might not be widely seen, it could be the film that reignites the career Mr. Parlavecchio could have had if “Amongst Friends” was worth the hype it once enjoyed so long ago. The film is also the debut of Ms. Wolfe, indeed a stunningly beautiful woman, one who could easily make a man want to change his entire life based on a three minute conversation with her.
“Jersey Guy” shows truly independent, non-DV filmmaking is still alive and kicking. Director Zois, currently at work on a second feature entitled “Spy Story,” is a talent to keep an eye on. I give this film an A for effort and a B for execution.
“Jersey Guy” Scorecard
Director: Elia Zois
Writers: Christ Zois and Elia Zois
Producer: Roosey Khawly
Featuring: Stacie Mistysyn, Arthur Nascarella, Steve Parlavecchio, Jill Wolfe
MPAA Rating: R for sexual content
Running Time: 90 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Sound Format: Dolby Digital
Distributor: Castle Hill
“Jersey Guy” Official Web Site