Plot: Four college friends — a divorced doctor (Rob Lowe), a novelist turned high school teacher (Thomas Jane), a financial adviser in hot water (Jeremy Piven) and a heartbroken romantic (Christian McKay) — come together for their yearly drug- and alcohol-fueled reunion. Amongst the weekend’s merriment, a secret from their past is brought to light and may change their lives forever.
I Melt With You isn’t a film you’re going to go back for repeat viewings. It’s heavy, it’s brutal, it’s a bit overwrought and sometimes a little too heavy-handed. It treads at the deep end of a sea of sadness. In short, this is not a happy film.
Yet despite all its melancholic excess and cinematic shortcomings, the film stays with you. It resonates with an audience because it tackles subject that matter the every man can relate to, and it is filled to the brim with award-worthy performances.
The performances of McKay, Piven and, most importantly, Jane are brilliant. As the heartbroken, openly gay friend Tim, Christian McKay’s performance is a ground-and-pound attack on your heartstrings. He portrays Tim as this inherently sweet yet ravaged-by-sorrow soul that you just feel for the guy. You’ll never want to hug a character and tell him everything will be okay more this year than with jim.
As Ron, the financial adviser who’s world is coming down around him, Jeremy Piven gives one of his best performances. For the majority of the film, it’s business as usual — Piven plays the cocky yet emotional hotshot. Yet when the financial empire he’s built for his family is destroyed, watching Piven spin out of control is breathtaking. And after watching him rehash his Entourage character for so long, this role was a breath of fresh air. You could tell this was a film he needed to make to show the world he’s got the dramatic chops to kill it in mainstream film drama.
Thomas Jane takes the cake, though, as the failed novelist Richard. Always an underrated actor (he was the best Punisher, seriously), Jane delivers the type of scene-stealing, set-piece-chewing, death-driven performances that award season loves. His 0-100 mph performance is so good, it’ll be the one you remember above all the other terrific performances in this film. It’s really a crime he isn’t more of a dramatic star than he already is.
It’s these three performances that make I Melt With You something special. If they hadn’t been so good, this film would’ve been suffered greatly as the from the plethora of college-level “what is life” type of dialogue and overly gratuitous drug use. Seriously, there were more drugs explicitly done in this film than Scarface, New Jack City, Up In Smoke and Blow combined. It actually was disturbing after a while because there seemed like at least eight different montages of people snorting, popping pills, smoking pot and injecting drugs.
And while character is the film’s strongest suit, one of the worst parts is the character of the town sheriff played Carla Gugino. This role is embarrassingly underwritten, both in terms of actual good dialogue and character motivation. Her actions are so randomly motivated that it often kills the momentum that the film’s really interesting left turn takes.
I Melt With You is a film that your average movie fan will not enjoy and is not something this reviewer would recommend to them. However, if you’re a film lover, someone enjoys risk taking in their films, who enjoys tremendous dramatic acting and fantastic cinematography, then I Melt With You is a must-see for you this holiday season.