Mark Ruffalo gets Ruffled by the Girl Next Door
What's the difference between a big budget rom-com and a low budget indie rom-com, frankly other than some big names and glossier production not a lot. They tend to tackle the same stories, the predictable set ups and fire off similar jokes as they endeavour to entertain. Which brings me to "Apartment 12" or "Life/Drawing" as it is also known, a typical rom com with all the stock elements you would expect from any modern movie portraying itself as romantic fun just with out the gloss, high end production and the big star names or at least when it was released.
Just when artist Alex (Mark Ruffalo - You Can Count on Me) thinks his life is on track it all goes wrong when his art exhibition is cancelled and he is dumped by his girlfriend. Forced to return to working as a pizza delivery boy and move into some low rent apartments full of oddball neighbours, it seems like he is living in hell. But when a new woman, Lori (Beth Ulrich) moves into the apartment opposite that all changes as they start to fall for each other except when Alex decides to end the relationship his life soon goes to pot again.
Whilst "Apartment 12" is pleasant enough as it tackles the normal obstacles of romance, break ups, jealousy and so on it never brings anything in the least bit new to the game. There are no quirky original sub plots, no new twist on an old cliche everything you get is exactly what you've seen in thousands of other modern rom coms. But in a strange way the fact that "Apartment 12" is a low budget movie the rawness of it all, the slightly shaky camera, the occasionally inept attempts at humour and the obvious romantic scenes gives it a strange sort of charm as if it's more honest than say a big budget movie which disguises it's flaws in gloss. I'm not going to say it's better than a big budget rom com but it does sort of work.
But "Apartment 12" does have numerous problems, little things which end up grinding and one of those is that despite being just 86 minutes it appears to drag as if it could have lost 15 minutes and flowed much better rather than feeling a little cumbersome towards the end. Part of the issue is that there are no sub stories, yes there are sub characters such as Ray who manages the apartments and Sylvia who for some reason acts like Kathy Bates as Annie Wilkes in "Misery" plus a few others but they don't have stories to tell, they float in, float out but never give "Apartment 12" a different avenue to go down leaving the troubled romance and failing career of Alex to carry the whole movie.
As for the performances well coming before he really made a name for himself, Mark Ruffalo takes centre stage as the self obsessed, lousy in love Alex and in a pleasant surprise doesn't do a bad job. Ruffalo always manages to deliver a sort of unease, nervousness to his characters and it's what makes his performance here quite entertaining although there is absolutely zero chemistry between him and his co star Beth Ulrich. Talking of which Beth Ulrich seems to have modelled her performance as Lori as a sort of Drew Barrymore imitation, so we get the lovable, slightly vulnerable girl next door and as such Ulrich does an adequate job.
As for the other performances well no one stuns with anything amazing. Alan Gelfant as Ray, the apartment manager, probably makes the most impact but only because he is in so many scenes.
What this all boils down to is that "Apartment 12" is what it is a mildly entertaining, low budget rom com. It has its weaknesses such as the often terrible jokes but it also has a touch of charm from being a little more honest than over glossy like big budget rom-coms.