Movie Review: Alex of Venice -- Mopey

04/18/2015 11:42 am ET | Updated Jun 18, 2015


The directing debut of actor Chris Messina, Alex of Venice is as notable for what it doesn't do as for what it does.

This is the story of a married parent suddenly forced to realign priorities when their spouse walks out. Think Kramer vs. Kramer - and then make the central character a woman instead of a man.

That's the switcheroo in this script by a trio of writers: Instead of the absentee father suddenly forced to play Mr. Mom, here's a woman who, having been the breadwinner, now must also handle all the household chores when her husband leaves.

Her name is Alex, in case you hadn't guessed that from the title. As played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead, she's an environmental lawyer, living in Venice, Calif., with her husband, George (Messina), and her aging father, Robert (Don Johnson), a former TV star who still is chasing acting roles. Most of the household is run by George, apparently a sometime painter and surfer who has been happy to play house-husband, up to the moment the film starts. Then he announces that this is not the life he wants for himself and walks out.

Alex, however, is at a critical point in a long-running lawsuit involving a resort and a wetlands. She's already struggling with her case, and now must suddenly assume the role of single parent in a household in which she often functions merely as a guest.

This review continues on my website.