People in Kilnerry, N.H. are acting a little weird. Challenging priests to boxing matches. Throwing “swingers” parties. Going for nude bicycle rides.
There must be something in the water, right?
Well, actually, yes.
In the new comedy Love in Kilnerry, there really is something in the water, a chemical that does away with people’s inhibitions, encouraging them to let go of their bottled-up desires. And it has hit the folks in this tiny, uptight New England town hard.
Because they like it.
Love in Kilnerry was actor Daniel Keith’s idea. He wrote it as a play, then turned it into a screenplay. He shot it, acting as both director and star. And now he’s distributing it himself, as it rolls out in theaters across to America, and gets ready for streaming.
And the shock is – it’s a nice little film.
It’s a shock because too often one-person shows like this end badly; first-time directors who also decide they’re going to star in their debuts aren’t just asking for trouble, but disasters. But Keith is a veteran actor who is consistently appealing as the small town’s strait-laced sheriff. And spending years in front of the camera seems to have given him a good sense of what should be going on behind it.
Not that the film is perfect. In fact, it has more than its share of flaws. Although the original songs on the soundtrack are fun, the orchestral score is overbearing. Some of the jokes don’t work, and the ending is a while in coming. And the large cast – mostly made up of folks from the New York theater scene– is erratic, with some of them still loudly playing to that back row in the upper mezzanine.
But Keith is pleasant, and he has good support from Tony Triano, who brings an old-time character actor’s energy to the role of the mayor, and Roger Hendricks Simon, who is delightful as Keith’s suddenly lively dad. The production values throughout are top-notch, and the New Hampshire scenery fills the screen with craggy mountains, open water and a delightful downtown you just want to amble through.
Sometimes the film itself ambles a little too much, taking things too easy — not pushing a funny situation hard enough, or letting an overdone performance slip through. It’d probably work better if you had a glass or two of the town’s tainted water yourself, first – or at least a few glasses of wine. But still Love in Kilnerry remains, not to damn with faint praise, a nice little film.
And it leaves you with the strong hope that its director soon makes another.