Published Sep 01, 2001"Apartment Hunting" is a most unfortunate romantic comedy. It's low budget, and it wears its frugality very badly; when it tries for charming eccentricity it ends up being stilted and awkward; and it's all wrapped up in an utterly conventional structure that has a gaggle of characters pairing off in various combinations. If I cared about any of them, I might have been pleasantly surprised or felt a glow of satisfaction at the eventual outcome, but instead everything felt arbitrary and shallow.
Written and directed by Bill Robertson ("The Events Leading Up to My Death"), "Apartment Hunting" takes place in the heart of Toronto's Kensington market, and therein lies the only source of a compliment I can deliver. Cinematographer Derek Rogers manages to pull off a few beautiful shots of the neighborhood (in transition from fall to winter) that made me think, for a moment, that there would be something beautiful and evocative in the rest of the film.
The story centers on a magazine writer, Ben (Andrew Tarbet), who is putting together an article on "telephone-dating" while at the same time looking for a new apartment for himself and his wife (he gets his calls mixed up and ends up asking a gay man, "How big is it?" referring to the apartment, but sounding like something else). Ben ends up bonding over the phone with a sweet Quebecois waif named "Celine" (played by the adorable Valerie Jeaneret, who, in the context of the film, is supposed to be dowdy), and then his search for a new home takes a back seat to possibly finding a new soul mate.
Along the way there are some boring romantic subplots and lots of mannered dialogue (Celine muses over the phone, "It must be snowing out. The snow always makes me lose my inhibitions " huh?). When the credits finally rolled I saw a list of Canadian funding agencies long enough to choke a dinosaur. Something is very wrong with this system; I could throw a rock somewhere on Queen Street and hit someone with a screenplay just like this.