Alternate Titles: Life/Drawing; Low Rent
Director: Dan Bootzin
On the DVD for the recently released (and renamed) independent romantic comedy/drama Apartment 12, actor Mark Ruffalo calls the film that gave him his first lead role and the rare chance to do broad comedy, one of his career’s best kept secrets that he feels contains one of his best pieces of work. While, when compared to the actor’s stellar turns in You Can Count On Me and countless others, it’s hard to share that high of enthusiasm, Apartment 12 is still a terrific and fun movie—wild, wacky and winner of the Birmingham Sidewalk Moving Picture Film Festival and the Phoenix Film Festival Cooper Wing Award for Best Director for Dan Bootzin who co-wrote the film with his wife Elizabeth. The very definition of independent—Apartment 12 was funded as Ruffalo shares entirely with credit cards and favors along with Ruffalo’s own car and clothes for his turn as Alex, an aspiring artist who is dumped by his highbrow girlfriend on the same day that his one-man art show is canceled, prompting him to seek refuge in a run-down apartment building filled with fellow Los Angeles oddballs, lonely hearts and eccentrics. Still working as a pizza delivery man while he tries to regroup and paint, Alex is urged by the building’s super (a hilarious Alan Gelfant who Ruffalo recommended for the role) to try to get back into the dating scene. After a disastrous attempt to meet a woman in a bar, Alex realizes that love or at least temporary rebound companionship may not be that far away when he begins dating his new neighbor who lives across the hall, Lori (a beautiful, funny and brash Beth Ulrich) a Colorado native who has recently moved to La La Land after a stint in the air force. Their quick courtship blossoms into a whirlwind of sleepovers and casual dates with both participants seeking different outcomes as Alex objectifies and idealizes the perfect woman he feels that he as an artist should be dating, not realizing that perhaps his ignorant and childish assumptions are making him closed-minded to the possibility of love with Lori. Although some of the humor is a bit overdone including far too many scenes with the casserole wielding school marmish neighbor for cheap laughs, it’s an entertaining date movie and one that seems to also accurately address issues surrounding the maturation of an egotistical artist into both a better human being and a better artist at the same time.