on April 02, 2004 by Jordan Reed
Fewer subjects reside closer to this reviewer's heart than the New York City subway system and crossword puzzles. Both prominently factor into Amir Naderi's "Marathon," but, alas, he wastes the opportunity to show viewers what they're missing without them. "Marathon" contains nothing more than its thin premise, that of a young woman's attempt to complete 77 crossword puzzles in 24 hours. The urban lass in question, Gretchen (Sara Paul), can't just sit in her apartment to get the work done. She requires the relative chaos and rhythms of the subway to keep her focused, and only returns to her living quarters to refresh and reload. On the rare occasion that she does in fact attempt to work at home, she has a recording of train noise pumped up to eleven on the stereo to mimic the real thing. Mom sometimes chimes in--evidently she, too, performed similar mental stress tests in her day--leaving encouraging messages on the answering machine. That, however, is it. Nothing else happens, other than Gretchen's uncomfortable dalliance with an L-train pseudo-stalker (Trevor Moore). Really.

"Marathon's" lack of action may lead those who attempt crosswords to ponder from what sources Gretchen collects hers for her challenge. Certainly it's not as much of a test to work on a New York Times Monday puzzle, which any regular addict knows is the easiest on offer. (NYT puzzles increase in difficulty as the week progresses, culminating in the brutal Saturday version.) And God forbid she count the sub-moronic People magazine Puzzler amongst the group. But "Marathon" contains little to take one's mind off of such petty concerns. Still, it's nice to see the subway system figure so notably in a film. Not since Walter Hill's "The Warriors" has there been so much NYC transportation footage. But you probably don't care much about that, either, do you? Starring Sara Paul and Trevor Moore. Directed and written by Amir Naderi. Produced by Amir Naderi and Reza Namazi. An Alphaville Films NYC release. Drama. Unrated. Running time: 75 min

Tags: tarring Sara Paul and Trevor Moore. Directed and written by Amir Naderi, Produced by Amir Naderi, Reza Namazi, Alphaville, Drama

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