Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews
- Category: Jacqueline Monahan
- Published on 15 June 2010
- Written by Jacqueline Monahan
Las Vegas Round The Clock
Jacqueline Monahan is an English tutor for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
She is also a consultant for Columbia College Chicago in Adjunct Faculty Affairs
The introduction to Alphonso Bow is a short, color travelogue highlighting the sights of Louisville, Kentucky, accompanied by an upbeat bluegrass tune entitled, “Froggy”.
Enjoy the song and the color while it lasts because the rest of Alphonso Bow is just that – all about Alphonso Bow – in black and white and full of exposition – taking place inside one booth at one Mexican restaurant. It’s also a look inside Alphonso’s thought processes.
The titular character breaks stereotypes while appearing to be one himself. With a Jethro-like accent and a voice that projects like a bullhorn, Alphonso Bow (Jeffrey Pierce) is a study in contrasts. It would be easy to write him off as an ignorant, loudmouth hick, except he’s got both ears pierced – unusually progressive – and ponders weighty issues with his pal Frank (Michael Dempsey).
Frank looks like he’d be right at home on the set of The Sopranos, but readily admits that he studies yoga and is writing a play. He’s familiar with great stage works like Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot and foreign films like My Dinner with Andre; the plot of the latter conveniently mirrors that of Alphonso Bow. Alphonso and Frank discuss the logistics and sanity of the Andre plot while carrying it out at the same time. Frank’s good at probing Alphonso’s mind and directing the conversation with a devil’s advocate intent.
Beleaguered waitress (Kasey Buckley) waits on them politely at first, then nervously, then merely tolerates the disruptive pair. As a reward, her sexuality is discussed in a crude way (“She’s a dyke…she walks like a man”) by both men, although Alphonso thoughtfully whispers to Frank so as not to hurt her feelings.
Throughout the course of the meal, we find out that Alphonso loves to talk, has an opinion on everything, is cocky and confident, loves meat but not vegetables, and thinks he’s a listener. He’s a high decibel debater who tells stories about encounters with his fellow men and women, that lead to pronouncements about the Bible, relationships, life on other planets, staged shows vs. films, sex with the lights on, female doctors, and how beds should be made (Navy style).
In the background two nearby couples are observed asking to be moved to a different booth because of Alphonso’s noisy excitability, not to mention his random sprinkling of expletives in a conversation laced with religious beliefs and labels.
He barely touches his medium steak, engaging in far too much talking to chew, although he does chew the fat as they say and vociferously, with Frank, who is like the wall to Alphonso’s incessant handball serve.
Frank’s wife Samantha (Kate Rodger) is introduced in the last ten minutes to inject a feminine point of view, but Alphonso can talk her and anyone else under the table. Samantha’s rant about kids as old as six who still wear diapers puts Alphonso on top of yet another soapbox.
Don’t make any bets that Alphonso will stop talking throughout the film – only a mute button would accomplish that. Pay attention to the end credits as well.
Jeffrey Pierce makes Alphonso likeable despite his thick skull and stubborn notions. Michael Dempsey conveys a kind, indulgent nature that helps the viewer understand why he’s friends with a guy who has such a hyperactive tongue. Kate Rodger appears out of nowhere and is too late to be effective, but Kasey Buckley holds her own against the two sometimes boorish men.
Director Lije Sarki’s feature debut illustrates a talent for understated humor in the overstatement that is Alphonso. The film’s action resides almost entirely in its animated chatterbox. Likeable and lunkheaded, Alphonso makes a strange kind of sense and has a transparent grace that some, like Frank, pick up on and others (like the waitress and patrons that just skim him superficially), do not.
The film’s a character study about a good ol’ boy who has got the world figured out and can’t wait to spread the word to anyone who’ll listen (or overhear). It is an acquired taste, most palatable to those who appreciate the illumination of a character from the inside out. Those expecting car chases, explosions, and exotic scenery will be disappointed; those who can map out a character’s landscape from his words will not.
The title really says it all because it’s all about Alphonso Bow.