Unmade Beds

August 21, 1998 at 04:00 AM EDT

At first, you think you’re watching a documentary — a portrait of four New York-area lonely hearts who describe their search for love, or at least companionship, in the personal ads. As they weave their doomed tales of romantic obsession, the four reveal themselves with a candor that’s so sharp and funny and sad, so haunting in the nakedness of its desperation, that you begin to suspect you’re seeing actors in a staged setting. The truth, though, is even trickier: These four are real people playing themselves, acting from scripts based on their own words, which have been crafted into heightened confessional monologues by British documentarian Nicholas Barker. His staged-reality shell game is, in essence, a more lurid and voyeuristic version of what the creators of My Dinner With Andre brought off, though Barker’s most fascinating stratagem is the hair-thin line he walks between cruelty and empathy. As we witness the hidden, at times pathetic yearnings of characters like Mikey, the aging swinger seated in his crypt-like ’70s bachelor cave, or Brenda, the tawdry, unapologetically sexual New Jersey divorcée, Barker invents a fiction darker — and stranger — than truth. A-

Unmade Beds

Nicholas Barker
Aimee Copp,
Brenda Monte
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Unmade Beds

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