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With: Daniel Cariaga, Kimberly-Rose Wolter, Erik McDowell, Alix Koromzay
Written by: Eric Byler, Kimberly-Rose Wolter
Directed by: Eric Byler
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 87
Date: 04/01/2006

Tre (2008)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Games, People, 'Tre'

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

After venturing into a much bigger film, Americanese, with actual stars (Joan Chen and Kelly Hu) the talented writer/director Eric Byler has returned to his roots with his third feature film, Tre, a direct offshoot of his accomplished, low-budget debut Charlotte Sometimes (2003). Tre was co-written by the actress Kimberly-Rose Wolter, who played a small part in Charlotte and appears here in a lynchpin role, as one of four people staying in a remote country house. Kakela (Wolter) owns the place; she was born wealthy but looks for something to do with her life. Currently she is trying screenwriting, but with little success. Her boyfriend Gabe (Erik McDowell) is a cowboy, giving horse-riding lessons to young girls. Gabe's best friend Tre (Daniel Cariaga) shows up drunk and newly single to crash on the spare bed, but this time the bed is taken by Kakela's friend Nina (Alix Koromzay), recently separated from her husband. Tre is a balding bear of a man who seems vulgar but also frustratingly direct. He has a way of winning over women with his confident gaze. At first he annoys Nina, then easily seduces her, then becomes bored with her. Later, while spending time alone with Kakela, he finds himself unexpectedly attracted to her. The problem is that Gabe and Tre are fiercely devoted friends who have sworn never to let women come between them. The other problem is that Gabe has just proposed to Kakela. As with his previous films, Byler delicately balances this volatile emotional mix, giving each character equal weight. He ventures into Douglas Sirk territory with astonishing skill (not an easy task), presenting this potential melodrama with gravity and intelligence, and never bludgeoning the audience with overt speeches or mood swings; he trusts us. And despite the minimal setting, Byler once again demonstrates a keen, subtle eye for the camera. His opening sequence -- with Tre driving drunk through the L.A. hills -- is a kicker, and he has an exceptional command of rhythm and space (the outdoor cowboy images are lovely). Occasionally the actors slip and reveal their lack of experience, but Byler's dexterity keeps things on track.

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