With or Without You

Austin Chronicle

DIRECTED BY: Wendell Jon Andersson

REVIEWED: 03-29-99

Alex looks, and pretty much acts, like an engineering major and the lead singer in a Baptist church choir, even though he's screwing Zoe every chance he gets. To Alex, sex actually means sex/relationship/love, the whole package deal. To disenchanted, monochromatic Zoe, it means something to keep herself occupied while James (her rock-singer boyfriend) is in Europe. When Zoe breaks things off with Alex due to James' return, Alex is devastated and mercilessly grinds his own pride into the ground in desperate attempts to win her back. With or Without You is not a particularly original story, but the telling of it is warm, genuine, and poignant. As the orbit-crossed lovers, Winters and Ryan have a lovely oil-and-vinegar chemistry. They don't mix, but they still go well together. Alex's friend Harold is a clichéd geek, but his Trekkie patter is hilarious and his trenchant observations are delivered with the smoothly snide superiority I remember in all the smart geeks in the Latin Club. With or Without You teeters dangerously on the brink of being an R-rated afterschool special, but engaging characters, entertaining dialogue, and tight direction prove that decency doesn't have to be preachy.

--Hollis Chacona

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