The Perfect 46 (1)

USA 2014

Run time: 97 mins.

Written and directed by Brett Ryan Bonowicz, The Perfect 46 charts the rise and fall of Jesse Darden, the creator of a website that assesses the genetic compatibility of would-be parents, and later develops into a glorified dating website. Whit Hertford’s performance as Darden is one of the few things I can recommend about The Perfect 46. When Derden is on the up Hertford brings to the role a passionate intensity that is reminiscent of Steve Jobs and other wunderkind from the modern tech industry. Likewise, Hertford does a great job of conveying dark despair, with an element of obsessive-compulsive behaviour, once things start to go wrong for Darden. A turning point for Darden comes when his own product shows him to be sterile and his wife leaves him. Later, there are also company problems to be faced.

Unfortunately, The Perfect 46 violates a couple of key principles of moviemaking. Firstly, rather than letting action drive the plot and letting characters’ behaviours reveal their thoughts and attitudes, large swathes of the film are given to interminable explanations and ethical discussions. If I wanted to have issues relating to genetic matchmaking explained to me, I would read a book or watch a documentary; in film fiction, however, extended explanation is frankly a bore. The Perfect 46 presents us with company executives giving explanations to news programmes, with executives expounding in the boardroom, and at one point there is even a dinner party at which characters bat the issues back and forth at great length. Part of the plot involves two hooded men breaking into Darden’s country retreat, where one of them then engages in even more philosophical discussion with Darden.

The second problem is the lack of any sympathetic character. Darden himself is the central figure in the film. Unfortunately, we are never given any reason to care about him. You might think that being diagnosed as sterile would give the viewer some reason to feel for Darden, but ironically he mostly behaves like a prick.

In the final scene of the film, the reason for the intruders’ break-in is made clear. Frustratingly, the dialogue at this point becomes quite intense and convincing. In one sense you could say the film ended on a high point, but on the other hand this last segment also hinted at how much better the rest of the film could have been.

Shown at Sci-Fi-London Film Festival.

Rating: 3/10

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