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Wait Your Turn: Waiting a Long Time and Nothing to Show For It

Fiction always has to make more sense than reality; someone apparently forgot to tell this to screenwriter Maude von Ehrenkrook. A college encounter – four dates that culminate not in Eve Cassidy’s expected smooching and romance but in an unexplained dump – assumes an inflated importance. Those four dates must have been more magical than a weekend at Disneyland; a sensible conclusion for the breakup would be that said guy, Thad (Murray) either can’t communicate his feelings when something is wrong or has some other defect that amounts to the same thing. Eve’s friend speculates, rather boorishly, that he must be gay. Because, of course, if something is wrong with a straight guy he must be gay, right? How about this: sometimes a jerk is just a jerk not worth shedding tears over. But no: the scenario hinges on the oddity of an obviously beautiful woman – actress Kelly Hoelscher – concluding that she must be repulsive.

Of course Thad isn’t really a jerk in Ehrenkrook’s eyes and after being made to wonder why we need such clumsy things as clichéd “is chivalry dead?” conversations by lifeless actress who mumble their lines, we finally witness the grand unveiling of an agenda delivered with all the pageantry and primitive skill of an elementary school play. An abrupt switch from Eve’s love life problems to her gym buddy Belinda’s relationship with Evan blows the case wide open with a conversation about abstaining from sex until marriage. Suddenly, there’s an explanation for why scenes are as stilted as the characterizations are contrived: “Wait Your Turn” is the staging ground for a pro-abstinence morality play that succeeds only in offering a pat solution to an oversimplified problem. Throw in the coincidental sibling relationship between Belinda and Thad and there you have it; Eve’s desire for physical expressions of affection, not to forget her pesky partying past, collided with Thad’s undisclosed dedication to abstinence.

But of course Thad isn’t really a jerk. His cheating no-goodnik of a father abandoned his family when he was sixteen, a fact we learn after that puzzling detour turns to Eve and Thad’s coincidental reunion years later. Like Bruce Wayne swearing on his parents’ grave to fight crime, we learn that young Thad made a mighty decision not to become his father courtesy of a neighbour whose long marriage is proffered as proof of his righteous expertise. Abstaining from sex, we are told, will provide the discipline to resist adulterous impulses – a choice apparently made all the more effective when accompanied by abstention from such niceties as kissing.

Goodness knows there’s plenty of room for a thoughtful film that bucks the hypersexualization trends of our culture. It’s tiresome, but true, that Sex™ is an institution confused by commercialization, the tension between pornography and Puritanism, psychology, sociology, folk wisdom, personal habits, politics, and a natural tendency to make things more complicated then they need to be. But the naïvely reductionist “Wait Your Turn,” which is not above giving STDs to a non-abstaining character, is not remotely the film to push back against mythological views of sex or serve up a plate of deconstruction a la Derrida. The irony is that “Wait Your Turn” doesn’t even work as propaganda for its own message. What small, contrived drama arises out of relationships coming together or falling apart stems not from sex (or lack thereof) but whether or not there is communication – people actually talking to each other! - about goals and intentions.

Entertainment: zero stars
Craft: zero stars

Wait Your Turn. Written by Maude von Ehrenkrook. Directed by Ron Newcomb. Starring Kelly Hoelscher, Josh Murray, Heather Elliot, and Amanda Agard. 103 minutes Visit Echelon Studios for distribution information.

Frédérik invites you to discuss "Wait Your Turn" and more at his blog.


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