Windy City Romance We’ve All Been Waiting for is ‘Rendezvous in Chicago’

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CHICAGO – In the 30 odd years I’ve lived in Chicago, and in the 10 years I’ve done the Chicago Film Tour, I know Chicago movies. The problem was that most of them didn’t understand the Windy City vibe, especially in the relationships that develop here. Well, writer/director Michael Glover Smith gets it exquisitely right, in his three story anthology called “Rendezvous in Chicago.”

The first one is set in a typical Chi-town tavern, the second is in a walk to the Lake Michigan shores and the third is a remarkable existential monologue in a classic city apartment, plus they are all about the relationships contained within (or out, as the second one goes). The main cast is sensational, virtually all of them stand outs, and the settings are longingly authentic. Those who have moved from the Chi will revel in their youth again, as the characters are living in the land of surprise connections. Like Woody Allen has done romance and Manhattan, Michael Glover Smith has paired the pitch of woo in a sophisticated Midwestern burg. “Rendezvous in Chicago” is the romance-in-the-Windy-City movie the world has been waiting for.

In segment one, a literary grad student named Delaney (Clare Cooney) is working on her thesis in a quiet Chicago tavern. She is approached by Paul (Kevin Wehby), a lothario-in-waiting. As he makes his pitch, Delaney offers a literature challenge (with a seductive twist) … can Paul name all the characters in a famous Russia novel? The implications become the scenario.

The Promise: Rashaad Hall and Matthew Sherbach for ‘Rendezvous in Chicago’
Photo credit: Women of the Now

Segment two regards the couple Rob (Matthew Sherbach) and Andy (Rashaad Hall), as they take a walk in the Rogers Park neighborhood. They are having the eternal debate regarding cats versus dogs, as they encounter the neighborhood on their way to the beach. Segment three is the apartment… Wyatt (Shane Simmons) is caught cheating on his live-in girlfriend Julie (Nina Ganet). After she kicks him out, she has something to say.

The third segment is the “breaking the fourth wall” monologue, but with a twist. In fact, Michael Glover Smith’s script is full of twists and turns on the commonalities of relationships. Nina Ganet delivers this piece with an indescribable panache, it has to be seen to be understood. The most remarkable element of it is that the words become a redemption for her, and in a sense, the audience. Just great.

Segment number two is arguable the most romantic of the three, and floats upon the rationalizations of Rob and Andy. It also comments upon the changes in attitudes toward same sex couples, and Chicago has blessedly led the way (all the way back to the first Gay Pride March, one year after the Stonewall Inn uprising). The two will become your gay best friends, as their situation draws to an awe-inspiring moment, using both their coupling and the natural urban resources that make Chicago one of the great cities of the world.

The Challenge: Clare Cooney and Kevin Wehby for ‘Rendezvous in Chicago’
Photo credit: Women of the Now

And finally, the Chicago tavern encounter. What begins as a typical “Day of the Pick-Up” becomes an intellectual tug of war, delivered with the pitch perfect delivery of Clare Cooney (click for interview). She knows how to fine-tune a character, creating as much inner space for Delaney as her outer challenge to Paul. She certainly tears down the stereotype of the tweedy book worm, in ways that create an evolved persona. The interplay with Kevin Wehby’s Paul – who makes some nice choices of his own – re-engineers the interaction of the breeders.

And how about that rising talent, writer/director Michael Glover Smith? He brought together the hopes and dreams of a wanton city, desperate for cinematic representation in a truthful and deserved manner. “Rendezvous in Chicago” is a harbinger of the Windy City wow, with better days to come.

Patrick McDonald of will host a Q&A for “Rendezvous in Chicago” at the Gene Siskel Film Center on Monday, February 11th, 2019. Click the link below for show time and details.

Rendezvous in Chicago” has limited run from February 8th-13th, 2019, at the Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 North State Street, Chicago. Click here for specific showtimes and information on the Q&A panel with Patrick McDonald. Featuring Clare Cooney, Shane Simmons, Kevin Wehby, Rashaad Hall, Michael Sherbach and Nina Ganet. Written and directed by Michael Glover Smith. Not Rated. senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

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