Written and directed by Bruce Bradbury, a touring musician returns home to spend time with old friends and an old flame for a day. Just as times begin to feel right again, she has to reckon with leaving again. Starring: Timothy J. Cox, Tatiana Borie, Alex Leombruno and Sloan Pirie.
The opening is very transparent in setting the scene, it goes old school with Cox as a fan asking for Rachel’s (Borie) autograph, it’s effective in letting us know she’s famous and in a way that requires basically nothing other than the actors which is a great idea but it is also not subtle. We’re then pushed forward to Rachel arriving at her friends’ apartment with heartfelt reconciliations but before long, you start to see those friends giving her certain looks that feel reminiscent of the old adage that fame changes people, an almost resentful side-eye. They seem as though they’re half pretending to be happy for her and half either jealous of her success or frustrated that they don’t get much of her time. It then divulges into what is basically a group of 20-somethings in NYC making the most of their day together, the cinematography doesn’t make a significant impression and the direction lacks variety, it’s fairly simple shots and for the majority of the time, it’s overly close up to its actors.
However, the crux of the story is the relationship between Rachel and her ‘old flame’ Margaret (Pirie), the problem is that there’s no real tangible moment that shows these two were previously together. It more feels like two friends discovering their feelings which might have actually worked better but it still doesn’t work well because there just isn’t enough time to flesh out the story and there isn’t any chemistry between the two actors. From what we see, it’s hard to decipher the reason why the filmmaker wanted to make this film, and the way that it comes across makes it seem as though they didn’t have a strong connection to the story. It feels almost removed, even though we’re directly in front of the actors for most of the film, it simply doesn’t have the emotion or sincerity to create a sympathetic story for the audience. A story like this should be intimate, vulnerable and handled gently, to develop their relationship in a way that’s convincing but instead what we get is a few longing looks and otherwise simply them being friends, as its entire lead to their romantic reunion.
Instead of a story about rekindling love, it feels as though you’ve just jumped into these people’s lives at a random moment and are just seeing a day in their life play out, and it sadly doesn’t come across as a very exciting or significant day. The way that the time is used isn’t as effective as that opening, it spends too long on moments that don’t add anything, for instance with the director’s character talking about salad, or talking to the other supporting actor (Leombruno) about whether dogs are better than cats, which has nothing to do with the story or really any purpose, is misguided and could have been better used to establish a connection between its leads. There are other issues as well, the dialogue is repetitive, they include the fact that she’s ‘on tour’ much too many times, it takes over the conversation and adds to the issue of not focusing the right aspects. Not to mention that after pushing that she’s a famous musician, the scene where Rachel sings completely undercuts that, it’s flat and it probably would have been best to leave the established fact of her talent alone.
Rooftops simply didn’t have enough time or feeling to achieve the story that they were going for, it’s an aim that doesn’t become particularly clear until its ending and by then, it’s far too late. The entire thing is hinged upon the chemistry of Borie and Pirie and it just isn’t there, the two of them don’t make a convincing couple and their attempts to convey that, come across as purely friendship. Unfortunately a story like this needs to be personal and handled delicately but its style doesn’t give any indication that the filmmakers had a strong connection to the story, so the result comes across somewhat empty and random.