VOD film review: How Do You Write a Joe Schermann Song?
Ivan Radford | On 23, Jan 2014Reading time: 3 mins
Director: Gary King
Cast: Christina Rose, Joe Schermann
Watch How Do You Write a Joe Schermann Song? online in the UK: Amazon Prime / Prime Video (Buy/Rent)
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 wordplay is as catchy as its underlying riffs.
“Don’t over-think it, we don’t need perfection…” serenades Joe, before pausing. “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 Chicago-like sass.
But in between the split-screens and spotlights, the film never forgets its characters. The supporting turns from the charming Mark DiConzo and Debbie Williams are superb, while the astonishing Christina Rose takes what could have been an overlooked part and turns it into a rousing co-lead; with her gorgeous vocals and easy chemistry, Evey almost steals the whole show from under Schermann’s hairy chin.
The result is a 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, brilliantly.
How Do You Write a Joe Schermann Song? is available to watch online on Amazon Prime Video as part of a £5.99 monthly subscription.