Rendezvous in Chicago
(Michael Glover Smith)
To reduce Michael Glover Smith’s Rendezvous in Chicago to a pitch: here we have a triptych narrative that examines the genesis, maturation, and disintegration of a relationship, utilizing Chicago as its playpen. But what Smith does here is subtler and more sophisticated than what a brief synopsis would suggest. For one, the filmmaker is at the height of his abilities, demonstrating a formal playfulness within each vignette that encapsulates the tone and tenor of each distinctive stage. In the first vignette titled “Brothers Karamazov”, we find Paul’s (Kevin Wehby) rather inelegant, though nevertheless charming attempts to pick up Delaney (Clare Cooney) at an empty bar. The scene is shot in warm crimson hues that play wonderfully into the couple’s bookish game of strip trivia. The static of an adjacent television informing a sense of unease and uncertainty to their game; is Delaney just fucking around with Paul? Or is she exposing Paul as a phony? It’s all about gamesmanship, with Smith acutely capturing man’s frequent need to embellish the past and present, all while a woman sees, with great ease, through that facade.
The following narratives, “Cats and Dogs” and “The End is the Beginning”, are notable in how they contrast Smith’s initial vignette. With “Cats and Dogs”, gone is the lustful crimson interior of the bar, now replaced by the luminosity of a Chicago afternoon, where a couple Rob (Matthew Sherbach) and Andy (Rashaad Hall) take a walk through Rogers Park. Or in “The End is the Beginning”, where we’re largely contained to Julie’s (Nina Ganet, one of Chicago’s most dynamic young actors) blue-tinged apartment as she copes with the discovery of finding her boyfriend in bed with another woman. From the mood-shifting color palette and thematically rhythmic editing, Rendezvous is not just Smith’s best film to date, but a genuinely vital Chicago film.