It’s a shame when a solid lead performance is buried underneath a bummer of a movie, and that’s just what happens in “Hard Luck Love Song,” writer / director Justin Corsbie‘s feature debut.
Based on the country song “Just Like Old Times” by Todd Snider, the film stars Michael Dorman as Jesse, a down on his luck karaoke cowboy who makes his way through the world by running grifts in pool halls. Jesse knows the art of being a con man, and he lives a life full of bad decisions. When the small time hustler has a chance encounter with former flame Carla (Sophia Bush), the pair attract the attention of some very dangerous gangsters. In an instant, his life goes from bad to worse.
Dorman is terrific as Jesse, and he makes an unlikeable character relatable. It’s easy to like everything about him, and his unassuming charisma is the perfect match for the film’s gritty, indie tone. Bush makes a decent onscreen partner, but her role is more off-putting of the two characters. Maybe you’re not supposed to like Carla, because her arrival makes it so easy to turn against Jesse the second she shows up in the story.
Corsbie’s directorial style operates with a polished grit, and his rapid-fire storytelling sets a brisk pace for the majority of the film. His dialogue, on the other hand, is unremarkable. Corsbie plays up the idea of the wayward lost soul saddled with tons of baggage with the same old clichéd storylines that you’ve seen time and time again. This isn’t a well written screenplay, and the dumb climax and forced conclusion lost me.
There is a surplus of musical interludes, unnecessary scenes that serve little purpose in moving the story forward. They do showcase the rockin’ soundtrack, which is filled with some really great selections.
“Hard Luck Love Song” is a been there, done that drama about a broken soul that is by no means a terrible film, but it certainly is forgettable.