Institute History

  • 1997 Sundance Film Festival


Love Walked In is an instantly captivating film, effectively blending black comedy with suspenseful drama. Sharp, witty dialogue and intricate characters such as these are not often created with such ease and style. With many twists and turns, ultimately this is a film about wanting to stay true to one’s convictions in a convoluted world rife with temptation.

Denis Leary plays Jack Hanaway, a have-not among the haves of the posh Hamptons crowd. He and his girlfriend Vicki (Aitana Sanchez-Gijon) serve as the entertainment in one of the local nightclubs. She sings; he plays piano and tells a story or two. He has given up drinking so there isn’t much to tell. He used be a writer, but that’s dried up, too. On the evening the club owner has heard all he can stand of Jack’s ranting, a wealthy, influential developer named Fred (Terence Stamp) comes to see their show. His interest in the couple, namely Vicki, comes just in time to salvage their jobs.

Inspired, Jack begins writing a dark, period short story which is interwoven between the film’s main story line, paralleling the narrative. Things heat up when an old friend of Jack’s shows up at their door. Eddie (Michael Badalucco) is a private eye, hired by Fred’s wife to report any infidelities. Realizing this is their chance to make their mark, he suggests a plan to blackmail Fred, using Vicki as the bait. As the film’s suspense heightens, so does the dramatic tension in Jack’s short story.

There’s something sweetly old-fashioned about director Juan José Campanella’s film, but it also supplies a daring variety of updated twists. Denis Leary elegantly glides through his role as a man who may have let life get the best of him. He has his convictions but little else. The supporting performances are equally strong, notably by Sanchez-Gijon. The nightclub scenes where she and Leary perform a few numbers are effectively sultry. Campanella masterfully weaves the two very different, yet mood-related, story lines throughout the film. Creating suspense for each piece’s outcome is a triumphant accomplishment that makes the film especially memorable.

— Lisa Viola

Screening Details

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