PHOENIX FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW – ‘How Do You Write a Joe Schermann Song?’
An immensely skilled songwriter who dreams of making it to Broadway, Joe (Joe Schermann) scrapes together a living while waiting for that one perfect moment to step into the spotlight. When opportunity comes knocking, Joe leaps at the chance to write the songbook for an off-Broadway show, but struggles to finish the job after learning how little creative control he will have over the finished product.
Inspiration comes in the form of Summer (Debbie Williams), an aspiring actress with an incredible voice that Joe thinks would be perfect for the lead, but he finds himself in a quandary when his equally talented live-in girlfriend, Evey (Christina Rose), discovers that Joe has begun tailoring the role for another actress without considering her for the part. As things begin to fall apart, Joe must try to balance his personal and professional lives while trying to find the sweet spot between financial success and artistic recognition.
Schermann, an accomplished composer with an extensive background in musical theater, expertly navigates the complex role of the film’s central character, and has also done a remarkable job writing the soundtrack. Each number is unique and memorable, from the affectionate duet Write Me a Love Song that takes place in Joe and Evey’s apartment, to the sultry Moth to the Flame, which sounds like something Jessica Rabbit might sing while sashaying around a 1940s nightclub.
While the bulk of the story may be focused on Joe, it’s actually Evey who serves as the emotional crux of the film. In the very definition of “breakout performance,” the stunningly beautiful Rose draws from her own experiences as a Broadway actress to breathe life into her character. With a journey that runs the gamut from desire to disappointment, jealousy to elation, and nearly everything in between, her beguiling screen presence ensures that viewers are captivated by every moment.
Director Gary King, who also wrote the film, opts to eschew spectacular dance numbers and elaborate costumes in favor of a more intimate, character-driven narrative. The experiment seems to have paid off, as the film enjoyed two recent wins at the Phoenix Film Festival, including the coveted Audience Award. How Do You Write a Joe Schermann Song is a wildly original experience that takes an anomalous approach to exploring some very relatable themes, and is a crowd-pleaser in every sense of the word.