Chicago filmmaker Michael Glover Smith’s third feature is a brief, four-part portmanteau comedy of modest cinematic awareness and assured quietude, set in modern-day Chicago, with the first three segments marking the stages of relationships: beginning, middle and end. (Smith appears in the 2018 Film 50.) The ambition of “Rendezvous in Chicago” falls somewhere between the squirrelly hush and face-level modesty of Éric Rohmer and the spiky, quietly antic trickery of Arnaud Desplechin.
A secondary virtue is utter disinterest in but the briefest of backstory: sharp sketches that work with casting via typage, drawing out archetypal situations, in each scenario, ambling forward without a need to stop except to occasionally pet a Shih Tzu. The fourth segment comes after the brief credits, a quick bit that, after the dance-driven third part, ends the film with a surge of passion so brief it hardly earns status as a shot, but is so iconic it instantly brands the eye and the brain. A Chicago punchline, in extremis. With Kevin Wehby, Clare Cooney, Matthew Sherbach, Rashaad Hall, Nina Ganet, Shane Simmons and Haydée Politoff (the lead and cowriter of Rohmer’s “La Collectionneuse”; “Love in the Afternoon”). 69m. (Ray Pride)
“Rendezvous in Chicago” opens Friday, February 8 at Siskel.
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His multimedia history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” will be published soon. Previews of the project are on Twitter and on Instagram as Ghost Signs Chicago. More photography on Instagram.