By: Anthony Zangrillo
“Match,” which premiered at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, explores the delicate nature of family and one’s inner soul. Based off a Broadway play written by director Stephen Belber, the film is about an eccentric world-renowned dance instructor, Tobi (Patrick Stewart), who lives a simple life that consists of knitting beautiful sweaters, yelling out directions to his dance students, and visiting the occasional ethnic deli. However Tobi’s world is shaken when he accepts an offer to be interviewed by Mike (Matthew Lillard) and Lisa (Carla Gugino) for a dissertation.
Stewart proves he is a very multi-faceted actor as he implores a wide range of emotions and acute mannerisms that capture our attention throughout the entirety of the film. He constantly makes obscure jokes and self-analyzes his company with witty banter. However he manages to smoothly transition to moments of disheartening fear and eventually to that of an inner peace. Lillard and Gugino react to Stewart’s mannerisms quite well adding to the depth of the overall performance in the film.
After the screening, Belber came out to talk about the film and answer a few questions from the audience.
Belber praised Stewart’s talents as such a diverse actor and talked about his desire to focus more on the actors in the film.
“I knew [Patrick Stewart] could convey emotion with his face, his expressions, and the way he processes information with his eyes that would get a lot more across then that of fancy camera work,” Belber said.
“I realized I was extremely lucky because obviously Stewart’s stage craft is extraordinary and I knew that I wanted somebody with stage chops and he connected to it personally. He just had this incredible blend of grace throughout the entire project and I was amazed at his willingness to apply his talent on a very low budget.”
Belber spoke about the history beyond the development of this script from a play into a movie.
“Ten years ago it was a play and one of the producers, David Permit, said you should make this into a movie and I said no because it was a one-room drama. As I worked on my first film, I realized that I didn’t really know my craft but I wanted to film something that I’d have control over and didn’t have to worry about the visual film making that I didn’t know so I could create this scenario of an emotional landscape taking place on someone’s face.”
Surprisingly, Belber revealed that the inspiration for Stewart’s character, Tobi, was actually based off a real life dance instructor.
“Tobi is inspired by Alphonse Poulin who is a professional dance instructor who taught my wife at the conservatory in Geneva when she was young. He came to New York, fifteen years ago to teach at Julliard. One night we went to his apartment in Inwood and he told us so many interesting stories. After that, I went home in a drunken haze and started scribbling down these stories, which leads me to a year later when I came up with this plot.” Finally, Belber reflected on the difference of being a director of a play and being a director of a film.
He said, “I can’t go back stage and tell them to do better the next night but I have appreciated the micromanagement in the editing room where I can get the rhythms that I want.”