One of the seven comically confused Canadians in the photo above is a murderer. It’s not the babe in the bondage outfit — don’t be so obvious. Though the film, based on Brad Fraser’s play Unidentified Human Remains and the True Nature of Love, means to cut deep into twenty-something angst, it plays more like a nightmare episode of Friends. Call it “The One With the Serial Killer.”
Thomas Gibson (Tom Cruise’s rival in Far and Away) gives the strongest and funniest performance as David, a struggling actor much like Joey on Friends, except that David turns waiter and gives up sleeping with Candy (Ruth Marshall), the book reviewer he lives with, for sleeping with men. “Honey, I’m homo,” he says, returning to their apartment after trying to seduce underage busboy Kane, played with Ross-like innocence by Matthew Ferguson. Candy retaliates with a one-nighter with Rachelcute lesbian Jerri (Joanne Vannicola) — imagine Monica doing that! — then gets serious with married bartender Robert (Rick Roberts). The character with the most Phoebe-like quirks is Benita (Mia Kirshner of Exotica), a dominatrix and psychic. David brings his straight pal Bernie (Cameron Bancroft), a sharp, yuppie exec of the Chandler school, to Benita for a sex, drugs and mind-reading session meant to work out a few kinks.
The film’s comic set piece involves Candy’s big date with Robert. David answers the door to let in the “dick of death” only to find Jerri begging to see Candy — and Robert right behind her. Now there’s a Friends situation. Sadly, Fraser and director Denys Arcand (Jesus of Montreal) keep pushing for larger significance with cuts to the mutilated victims of the killer. Pretension has damaged more than one promising comedy of manners, and it crushes this one. Even Marcel the monkey couldn’t save it.