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Jefferson Root Written by Jefferson Root
Aug. 11, 2011 | 5:31 PM

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Hollywood Feel Good Film Festival Pick: ESPOSITO

As the stock market dips and turns this week like the latest nightmare roller coaster at Six Flags, movies can be a welcome distraction.  The third annual Hollywood Feel Good Film festival, which runs August 12-14th at the Raleigh Studios on Melrose, not only gives audiences a chance to escape their troubles, but adds the gurantee that the films on display will feature happy endings.  In Annie Hall after writing his first play, Woody Allen’s alter ego Alvy Singer explains that you want things to turn out perfectly in Art because it’s awfully difficult in life.  In film, a forced happy ending can ruin a good story, but there are few moviegoing pleasures that can match an upbeat resolution that’s done well.   

Audiences should have no trouble walking out of director Matt Nunn’s Esposito with smiles on their faces.  Working from an original script by Erin Fede, who also stars, the film is an offbeat love story that fulfills the viewer’s expectations for the genre while also offering an engaging assortment of believable oddballs. 

The set-up for Esposito is simple.  Ephraim (Stephen Monteserin), a handsome young Moroccan working for his Uncle Rachid in North Carolina, has been assigned to attend storage auctions looking for merchandise for his Uncle’s re-sale shop, “Rachidden Treasures”.  For those who haven’t seen shows like Storage Wars on A & E, storage facilities will often auction off the contents of their units if a tenant falls too far behind on their rent.  While encouraging the return of personal or “sentimental” items, auction buyers are under no obligation to do so.  Ephraim and his aspiring rapper friend Julius (a winning Chris Crutchfield) attend an auction at Esposito storage, where they purchase the contents of a unit belonging to Jamie, an Esposito employee.  After taking some time to pore over the contents, most of which are childhood mementos or personal journals, Ephraim is intrigued by Jamie and decides to try to work her way into her heart by heroically returning her lost possessions.  Recently promoted to manager, Jamie hires him, and a gradual courtship begins.

That’s really all there is to the story, yet Esposito manages to hold our attention due to the charismatic performances of Fede and Monteserin.  Even though we know where the story’s heading, it’s still a pleasure to watch it unfold.  Occasionally the film overdoes it with its quirky side characters (one storage tenant who shows up every day and eats crackers adds little to the film), but it redeems itself with a satisfying conclusion that feels both heartfelt and well earned.  It also feels good to see a film set in the South where a cast of multicultural characters is presented so matter of factly.  Nunn’s direction is mostly solid, although one romantic montage instead of two would have been fine.  Esposito doesn’t try to re-invent the wheel,  instead it wisely trusts the viewer to warm to its modest charms.

Esposito will have its L.A. premiere at the Hollywood Feel Good Film Festival as part of a double bill with Millie’s 101 Things.  Advance tickets are sold out, visit for more information.

ESPOSITO from matthew jacob nunn on Vimeo.

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