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
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