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Painted Heart Review

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Wesley is a simple house-painter who falls in love with Margaret, the wife of his boss, Willie. To most people who know him, Willie is a snob, unbeknownst to all, however, he is closet serial killer. In a dramatic final scene, Wesley decides to confront Willie.

★★★★★

Unworldly house-painter (Patton) develops a king-size crush on Margaret (Neuwirth), the timid wife of his slobbish, oversensitive boss, Willie (Pastorelli). This being one of those deliberately weird American independent films, Wesley courts Margaret with gifts of lipstick, and by breaking into her house one night to demonstrate undying love.

Willie, meanwhile, whose deep-rooted psychological problems stem from his abuse as a little boy, is working out his own lipstick obsessions by hanging out with winos and freelancing as a serial killer who leaves his derelict victims plastered to the wall. Margaret and Wesley don't quite get it together to do a runner, but Willie goes off the deep end nonetheless, and confronts Wesley in a paint-sloshing finale.

While this trundles along with the occasional amusing stoned moment and the odd pleasing dialogue non sequitur, it never really makes any particular points beyond the obvious suggestion that ordinary American life turns you into a mass murderer. Patton, an underrated performer only rarely served with a good role, and Neuwirth, best known as Lilith from Cheers, are interesting screen presences but you just wish director-writer Taav had given them the material to really soar. As it is, both actors fall back on the sort of "aw shucks" mannerisms that give them the appearance of smart people pretending to be dumb.

One or two scenes play pretty well, but the film moves at a sluggish pace and tries too hard to hit the oddball buttons. Winding up on an especially downbeat note, it doesn't exactly send you home with a big smile either.