Yale Club

Reunion
Running time 90 minutes
Written and
directed by Alan Hruska
Starring Brett Cullen, Christopher McDonald, Cynthia Stevenson, Zoe McLellan, Jamey Sheridan

Alan Hruska’s Reunion, from his own screenplay, is singularly ill-timed in its efforts to make us believe in the reunion of the members of an elitist Yale society 10 years after the death of one of its most beloved members, Janie Burns, wife of Jake Burns (Brett Cullen), a trial lawyer with a published novel that we later learn was at the expense of his fellow society members. Nevertheless, Jake organizes the meeting in New York with the help of his executive assistant, Averil (Zoe McLellan), who is angling for a closer relationship with her still-widowed boss, though he is much older than she is, and still seems to be mourning his wife.

The invited group includes big-time producer Lloyd (David Thornton) with his actress girlfriend, Minerva (Alice Evans); Barnaby (Jamey Sheridan) and his wife, Emily (Cynthia Stevenson), at a difficult stage in their marriage, he with an alcohol problem and stymied career, she a frustrated writer with poor sales on her first novel; Sadie (Amy Pietz), an actress turned talent agent; the one completely solid citizen of the group, Saul (Josh Pais), a successful doctor and philanthropist, with an adoring wife, Beth (Jessica Hecht); and, finally, Eamon (Christopher McDonald), a famous journalist with a spiteful tongue.

The reunion consists of two meetings, based on the group’s two Yale sessions of confession and confrontation. The end result is a brawl with chairs being thrown as deeply buried secrets are unearthed implicating Jake and Janie with the other male members of the society. Indeed, since no one in the cast is a household name, the series of confessions and critiques resemble nothing so much as actors’ auditions. And in the end, Janie’s promised letter is never read to the group, which reminds me of Chekhov’s famous dictum that if you produce a gun in the first act, you’d better use it by the end of the third.

asarris@observer.com