Movie Review: ‘Dorfman in Love’ (Maine Jewish Film Festival)

At the Maine Jewish Film Festival

“Dorfman in Love,” written by Wendy Kout, directed by Brad Leong, 92 minutes, rated R.

The 2013 Maine Jewish Film Festival kicks off Saturday in Portland with “Dorfman in Love,” a film written by Wendy Kout, best known for her work on TV’s “Anything But Love” and “Mork & Mindy.”

Set in Los Angeles, “Dorfman in Love” follows the misadventures of its title character, Deb Dorfman (Sara Rue), a single twentysomething who caters to the men in her life because, well, they need her. Her brother and boss, Daniel (Jonathan Chase), calls her his “rock,” as he passes all of his busy work onto her; her father and recent widower, Burt, (Elliott Gould) has taken up residence with his daughter; and her longtime friend and crush, Jay (Johann Urb), takes full advantage of Deb’s feelings for him, asking her to cat sit and clean his disastrous loft while he’s away on assignment for a week.

Deb, of course, agrees to all of it, neglecting her own happiness to help these three men who would be hopeless without her. All of that changes, however, when she meets Cookie (Haaz Sleiman), a handsome artist who happens to be her next-door neighbor for the week. There’s an undeniable spark between the two of them, and as much as Dorfman is convinced she’s in love with Jay, she can’t deny her chemistry with Cookie.

Cookie helps open up Dorfman’s mind, as she begins to tap into her creativity and find her voice that’s been dormant for so long.

For a feature-length film, “Dorfman in Love” feels a lot like a sitcom in its structure and payoff, which isn’t surprising considering Kout’s background. It’s a breezy romantic comedy that leans heavily on its cast of characters to carry the material with their little quirks or foibles. Although it is lite fare, “Dorfman” has a brain, and is invested in the development of its off-beat heroine as she navigates her crazy, crazy world.

“Dorfman in Love” will open the Maine Jewish Film Festival at 8 p.m., Saturday, March 9, at the Nickelodeon in Portland, followed by a Q&A with Wendy Kout. The film will also screen at 7 p.m. Sunday, March 17, at the Bangor Opera House. For more information on the Maine Jewish Film Festival and a complete schedule, visit mjff.org.

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