EIFF Interview: Alvarez and Geraghty on Easier with Practice

Phone sex with a killer soundtrack. What's not to love?

Feature by Erin McElhinney | 25 Jun 2009

I’ve been talking about this film almost non-stop since seeing it and have become pretty adept at the one line sum up: a fairly nerdy guy is in a motel room one night when the phone rings and a voice at the other end says ‘Hi, what are you wearing?’ The reaction, so far, has been unanimous; a beat, followed by ‘…and then what?’ Well, then, and here’s the best bit – you tell them it's (pretty closely) based on a true story.

An autobiographical GQ article written by Davy Rothbart – the man who co-founded FOUND magazine – found its way into the hands of writer/director Kyle Alvarez – then PA to Warren Beatty – one insomniacal night and within a month he’d finished the first draft. “It was kind of embarrassing just writing some of the dialogue, you know?” says Alvarez “I could so not do what the character Davy does in the film; I was looking over my shoulder whilst scribbling down the script, just in case anyone saw the kind of scenes I was writing. That’s when I knew I was on to something.”

Disgustingly young and perky for someone who’s just finished their debut feature, Alvarez comes across as a hyperactive teenager with both feet firmly in the zeitgeist, big eyes behind horn-rimmed glasses. A relative newcomer, he spent 18 months raising the budget through private investors – “walking into rooms, asking people for money, it was arggghhh!” – and it’s fair to say all involved can give themselves a large pat on the back.

The dialogue is beautifully awkward, the pace measured, the tone alternately tender and brutal. Alvarez very wisely refrains from delivering any form of distinct ‘message’ with the film, allowing the performances and writing to, well, speak for themselves. He wields a delicate hand throughout, and lord knows it’s a relief to watch a movie where the director assumes that his audience are intelligent individuals.

Raising big questions such as what really constitutes a relationship (or love) whilst maintaining a cutting sense of humour throughout is no mean feat, and lead actor Brian Geraghty is pretty much perfectly cast. A rising star – see him in Jarhead and the upcoming Kathryn Bigelow release The Hurt Locker – Geraghty not only appears in virtually every single scene, but manages to make a lonely guy in a cardigan talking dirty to a stranger on the other end of a phone… somehow sweet. “We actually did it in one take” says Geraghty “I just felt so comfortable with the crew and with Kyle’s writing… it just worked.” Quiet and intense, he’s the perfect foil to Alvarez’s non-stop enthusiasm; as I’m walking away Kyle calls after me.:“Hey, I checked out The Skinny website, it’s really cool.” Geraghty adds “If Kyle says it, it must be.” I can’t help feeling they’re both right.

Easier with Practice is showing as part of Edinburgh International Film Festival 2009 www.edfilmfest.org.uk