Great Unpleasantness, The (1993): Pentes’ Melodrama about Youth Angst

Dorne M. Pentes’ The Great Unpleasantness, a naive, simple-minded melodrama about youth angst and alienation. Despite impressive acting by the two leads, overly familiar concept and unexciting direction should confine this indie to minor film festivals and possibly video.
Set in a large Southern city, story concerns Errol (Peter Carrs), a young angry man estranged from his divorced parents. Living in a run-down building with his g.f. Isabel (Collyn Gaffney), the two lovers make a scrappy living, taking odd jobs, doing petty burglary. They socialize with their feuding gay neighbors and their friend Darla (Paige Johnston), who is married to an obnoxious, abusive husband. Together, they form some kind of communal bond, one that proves helpful in fighting their eviction.
Pentes’ melodrama is not only commonplace but also contrived. The building where they live belongs to Carrs’ greedy, capitalist father (C.K. Chuck Bibby), a modern symbol of the old and exploitive plantation owner. And years after walking out on her son, Carrs’ mother (Elizabeth Orr) suddenly shows up at the restaurant where he works.
For the most part, the writing is bland and immature: Almost every scene tends to end in yelling and screaming. The small arguments and fights lead to the ultimate confrontation between irresponsible father and long-suffering son. Close to physically beating his dad, Carrs’s anger and frustration is disappointingly articulated in the charge, “Are your more interested in money or soul,” which is repeated over and over again.
In this context, the hopeful resolution is enigmatic: After endless bickering and mutual accusations, the lovers are seen walking together toward the horizon. Overall, pic suffers from simplistic psychology about intergenerational conflict and parents’ damaging effects on the their children.
Pentes shows talent and facility in handling his young actors. As the couple, Peter Carrs and Collyn Gaffeny are always credible, bringing much needed energy and liveliness to their pedestrian roles. But their work is surrounded with mediocre, colorless performances, particularly by C.K. Chuck Bibby and Elizabeth Orr, who seem to act completely from the outside.
The least one can expect from a director who claims to be committed to regional filmmaking is to identify more specifically the locale of his story and make its bearing on the protagonists more precise.                                                                                                                           
A Crescent Pictures production. Produced by Wendy Fishman. Directed, written, and edited by Dorne M. Pentes. Camera (color), Mick McNeely; music, Jake Berger, Buzzov-en, Pervis Lee; sound, Jack Rainsford; production design, Dominic Masters; art direction, Jim Gloster; casting, Linda Newcomb, Vinnie Woods. Reviewed at an AFI screening room, June 18, 1993 (In AFI/L.A. FilmFest). Running time: 77 min.
Errol……..Peter Carrs
Isabel….Collyn Gaffney
Parks..C.K.(Chuck) Bibby
Sally……Elizabeth Orr
Darla…..Paige Johnston
Johnny…….Jim Gloster