Love in the Time of Money

By Michael O'Sullivan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, November 29, 2002

In writer-director Peter Mattei's intriguingly cyclic feature debut, one character asserts that men think about sex every 20 seconds; women far less often. If the nine central characters – five men, four women – in the roughly 90-minute-long "Love in the Time of Money" are any indication, that averages out to about once every 10 minutes.

Here's how the lust-fueled round robin works: Existentially Weary Prostitute No. 1 (Vera Farmiga) picks up Lonely John No. 2 (Dominick Lombardozzi), who is later seduced by Sexually Frustrated Society Wife No. 3 (Jill Hennessy), whose Distant Husband No. 4 (Malcolm Gets) runs off to make a pass at a Supposedly Straight Male Painter No. 5 (Steve Buscemi), who then hits on Foxy Art Gallery Receptionist No. 6 (Rosario Dawson) . . . and so on and so forth until Suicidal Bond Salesman No. 9 (Michael Imperioli), takes the whole thing full circle back to E.W.P. No. 1 for the film's guaranteed-to-bum-you-out conclusion.

Despite impeccable acting – the film also stars Adrian Grenier and Carol Kane in a touching May/September encounter – and a script that takes some rather unexpected (even, at times, preposterous) turns, "Love" is just too, too precious in the end. How else to explain this howler of an exchange between S.F.S.W. No. 3 and D.H. No. 4? She: "I want to go away. I want to taste strange things. I want to sleep with other men." He: "So do I."

LOVE IN THE TIME OF MONEY (R, 88 minutes)Contains profanity, strong sexual content and brief violent imagery. At the Cineplex Odeon Dupont Circle 5.

© 2002 The Washington Post Company