Straight-to-VOD Thursday: From direct-to-iTunes indies to naff bargain bucket sequels, we look at films only available on VOD in the UK.
How do you write a Joe Schermann song? That’s the question Joe Schermann’s asking himself as he struggles to finish a musical. A veteran of the off-Broadway scene, he’s been touring audition rooms for years, accompanying women hoping to be the next big lead. Among them is girlfriend Evey (Christina Rose). She’s got talent – and ambition to match – so why hasn’t Joe (Joe Schermann – playing himself) ever penned a song for her?
Joe would answer – but he’s too busy falling in love with Summer (Debbie Williams), a singer whose voice leaves his eardrums head over heels. That’s when the theatrics really start.
“You have a much nicer piano at home,” advises best friend Gunther (producer Mark DiConzo). And before you know it, we’re back at that keyboard watching another number unfold. It’s a duet. The title? Write Me a Love Song.
That’s exactly the kind of thing you can expect from Joe Schermann. Director Gary King’s musical is a witty little ditty, full of songs about writing songs that get written as they’re sung – and almost every single one is a gem. One Sondheim-esque tune, I Hate Summer, is a joy (“Summer makes us sweat, it give us hives/All it does ever is fuck up our lives”) while Write Me a Love Song’s word play is as catchy as its underlying riffs.
“Don’t over-think it, we don’t need perfection…” serenades Joe, before pausing. “Shit, what rhymes with perfection.”
All beard and no balls, Joe Schermann is a natural at playing himself. He slouches about awkwardly, tired of people asking him the same questions. “What do you do?” “I’m writing a musical,” he replies. “Ooo, like Cats?” “Yeah,” he sighs. “Like Cats.” His weary confusion is as believable as his prodigious piano playing; even his facial hair looks sad.
King’s secret, though, is to open the story up from there: this could have been a low-key one man show, but the director thinks bigger. And so we have spectacular show-stoppers and daring dances, fleshed out beautifully by composer Ken Lampl and edited together with all the sass of Chicago.
But in between the split-screens and spotlights, the film never forgets its characters. The supporting turns from the charming Mark DiConzo and curvy-lipped Debbie Williams are superb, while the astonishing Christina Rose takes what could have been an overlooked part and turns it into a rousing lead; with her gorgeous vocals and easy chemistry, the stunning Evey almost steals the whole show from under Schermann’s hairy chin.
The result is a proper virtuoso piece of indie filmmaking – a joyous, toe-tapping musical that razzles and dazzles with the best of them. How Do You Write a Joe Schermann Song? If you’re asking these guys, bloody brilliantly.
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