Love in the Time of Money

Perhaps the most entertaining moment in the largely non-entertaining “Love in the Time of Money” is when a character played by Steve Buscemi says, “Do I seem like a desperate psycho?”

The answer, of course, is yes. That’s what he’s famous for. I can’t tell whether it’s an inside joke, or whether that line would have been there regardless of who played the part.

Either way, this is a forgettable movie. It offers nothing new, has no insights on any of its subjects, and doesn’t have dialogue that is witty or snappy or anything else beyond the norm.

I suppose its writer/director, first-timer Peter Mattei, imagines its structure to be worth noting. So I will note it, with the caveat that it’s not worth noting. The film has several pairs of characters, each leading to the next. It starts with a hooker and a creepy john; then we see the john, who is a contractor, meeting with a potential client; then we see the client with her husband; then it’s the husband with a friend; and so on. Each vignette hands one of its major players off to the next, until we finally come around to the hooker again.

This is clever enough, and such a device is not done so often as to be commonplace. It is not, however, enough to base a movie on. Like so many new filmmakers, Mattei seems to think the structure IS the story, when that clearly is not the case. Remember the gimmick of “Memento,” how the film was told in reverse order? Now remember how that movie ALSO had a great story, great writing, great acting, etc., etc.? “Love in the Time of Money” has its cute format, and little else.

It does offer good acting; we’ll give it that. Buscemi, Rosario Dawson, Vera Farmiga, Michael Imperioli, Carol Kane, Adrian Grenier, Jill Hennessy, Malcolm Gets and Domenick Lombardozzi are the nine central characters, all sinking their teeth into the roles to the extent that it’s possible, given the limited screen time each has. Kane is loopy, as is her comfort zone; Imperioli plays a suicidal Wall Street wizard; Hennessy is especially sympathetic as a frustrated housewife.

All of the pairings deal with love and/or sex. But they speak in banalities and cliches. Buscemi and Gets have a marvelously funny scene together, and there are scattered laughs elsewhere. And then it’s dry and dull as far as the eye can see.

C (; R, strong sexuality, some crude sexual dialogue, some harsh profanity.)