VIFF 2013 Review: That Burning Feeling



Producer turner writer/director Jason James isn’t exactly new to the movie business. He’s been working in the production side of the business for a number of years but the pull of filmmaking was just too strong to keep it on the backburner so taking a queue from the character in his debut feature That Burning Feeling, James jumped right in.

Paulo Costanzo (familiar to TV audiences as Evan on “Royal Pains”) stars as Adam Murphy, a successful man-behind-the-man of real estate mogul Roger Whitacre, a self obsessed business man who has made a name for himself creating “communities” all over the city. Adam is a bit of a ladies man but when he wakes up one morning with some discomfort “down there”, he takes himself to the doctor only to discover he’s contracted an STD. Turns out the worst thing that could have happened to Adam is also the best thing that could happen to his life because in being forced to contact all of his partners from the last few weeks, he comes to realize that his life is vacant and meaningless and that though successful in business, he’s completely unsuccessful at what really matters in life: living.

James’ movie may sound a lot like a romantic comedy and it certainly has some of those overtones but it feels far more authentic than most. On paper, Adam is the worst kind of playboy, a guy who doesn’t even bother to learn the names of the women he sleeps with, but on screen, Costanzo gives the character a charm that’s hard to resist. It also helps that Nick Citton’s script gives Adam a bit of depth beyond the male version of Katherine Heigl in one of her less successful romcoms. For that matter, all of the characters in That Burning Feeling are interesting – from Whiteacre who comes across as an egomaniac with a ferocious business and sexual appetite (John Cho is really fantastic in the role which is a departure from his usual characters) to the women who become so important in Adam’s life.

Though it focuses primarily on Adam making a life change, That Burning Feeling also manages to make some poignant observations on how cities are becoming less and less like communities and moving ever closer to the individual living alone and how that affects our relationships but also on how going through life more worried about the make of your furniture rather than the people you share your time with makes for a much less fulfilling life.

Though initially it was the idea of a romantic comedy about STDs that caught my attention, That Burning Feeling brings a depth and nuance that is mostly lacking from its Hollywood counterparts. Smart, funny and hugely entertaining, That Burning Feeling is a winner.

That Burning Feeling plays again tomorrow at 3:30PM. Stay tuned for more details on the upcoming release!