Starring Giacomo Gianniotti. Rated PG
Belying the bland title, Acquainted is more about restlessness than it is about love, or even lust—although carnal attraction is the customary motivator that gets our young participants spinning away from otherwise stable situations. It’s a romantic comedy that gradually sheds both the romance and the laughs, in exchange for something more serious.
The Toronto-shot effort features a lively cast of attractive twentysomethings—in fact, they are far more model-perfect than the story calls for. Still, the actors—mostly immigrants to Canada or the U.S.—have surprisingly long credit lists and all end up delivering something of substance before the slight tale is done.
Rome-born Giacomo Gianniotti (currently Dr. DeLuca on Grey’s Anatomy) plays Drew, a somewhat indigent TOer who says he wants to be writer. He and longtime partner Claire (Rachel Skarsten), busy with the restaurant biz, just bought a house in a leafy part of town, and they’re already squabbling over what to do to it. So he’s ready for distraction when encountering a high-school friend at a bar one night. Actually he’s more of an acquaintance to Emma (Brazilian-Canadian Laysla De Oliveira), who runs a flower shop. But some kind of spark remains from that decade, apparently.
Emma lives with her squeeze, Alex (Degrassi grad Raymond Ablack), in equally swell digs. (As with most RomComs, it’s not explained why these people live so well and have so much free time, based on the work they do.) This second feature from writer-director Natty Zavits doesn’t really illuminate what’s missing from these established relationships, but both Drew and Emma start getting snappy with their mates and looking for excuses to spend time with others.
The movie is very plainly shot, although this doesn’t detract from its non-shiny message about young people being selfish while finding themselves, and not necessarily through others. Supporting players include New York-born Jonathan Keltz (also a producer here) as Drew’s head-shaking pal, and Emma gets varying degrees of support and dismay from Mouna Traoré, Parveen Kaur, and Australia’s Adelaide Kane (who, as the lead in Reign, worked with Keltz, Skarsten, and Gianniotti).
They all provide more oomph than the script asks of them, and it certainly could have gone further. When Drew finally gets around to writing a short story, it’s called “Long Walks With Pretty Girls”, and that title may be a tip-off as to why his writing career hasn’t taken off. Acquainted is similarly lacking in depth, and yet it has qualities that are worth getting to know.