Rendezvous in Chicago: Quite the Ensemble

Clare Cooney as Delaney and Kevin Wehby as Paul in the "Brothers Karamazov" segment of Rendezvous in Chicago.

Michael Glover Smith’s Rendezvous in Chicago has quite the ensemble put together while showing off the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago.

There’s more to life than just New York and Los Angeles.  It feels like very few studio films have been able to showcase the city of Chicago like it deserves.  This is where indie filmmakers such as Michael Glover Smith are able to step up to the plate.  Smith finds a way to focus on the Rogers Park neighborhood.  He does so by dividing this film into three different segments.  The feature follows both Cool Apocalypse and Mercury in Retrogade.  This third film serves as the closing act of a trilogy.  I say this because Kevin Wehby, Chelsea David, Nina Ganet, and Shane Simmons reprise their roles.

The first segment features Delaney (Clare Cooney) and Paul (Kevin Wehby) in a game of trivia–The Brothers Karamazov trivia in particular.  It’s an empty bar so when Paul sees Delaney studying on the opposite side of the room, he decides to make small talk as a way to get to know her.  He may not outright say it but we all know he’s trying to get into her pants.  I really don’t want to give it away as this is just one that you need to see it to believe it.  I will say this about the first segment:  the “classically beautiful”–as Glover put it during a recent Q&A–Clare Cooney crushes the role.  It makes you wonder why she’s not getting more leading performances.  This may only be one segment but I’d be interested in seeing what Cooney does with a more meatier role.

“Cats and Dogs” introduces us to Rob (Matthew Sherbach) and Andy (Rashaad Hall).  This segment is about more than cats and dogs but a commitment to each other.  Smith just takes us on a detour while getting there while giving himself a cameo as the owner of a car with an alarm going off.  Anyway, I love the way that they frame the closing scene of this segment.  A gay couple can get engaged in Chicago and it’s business as usual.  Nothing out of the ordinary.  It could have been a completely different story in West Rogers Park!

Finally, the third and final segment is “The End is The Beginning.”  This segment brings back Julie (Nina Ganet) and Wyatt (Shane Simmons) from earlier Smith projects.  It’s not pretty by any means.  Julie breaks the fourth wall by dancing with the camera after catching Wyatt sleeping with co-worker Honey (Melanie McNulty).  Julie is so pissed at Wyatt that she rubs cupcakes all over his face!  She knows how to makes a statement!  Julie throws his Blu-ray player out the window.  Is Smith is using this as some kind of commentary of his own when it comes to physical media?

With so few studio filmmakers turning to Chicago for features, indie filmmakers like Smith are doing it themselves with Rendezvous in Chicago.  Smith does so with quite the talented cast.  It’s only going to be a matter of time before Clare Cooney becomes a household name.

CAST:  Clare Cooney, Kevin Wehby, Rashaad Hall, Matthew Sherbach, Nina Ganet, Shane Simmons, and Haydee Politoff

Rendezvous in Chicago is playing on the film festival circuit. Grade: 4/5

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.