Watch ‘Amanda,’ see Indy
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As the closing credits for “Amanda” roll, the audience sees a very rare notation: “Shot on location in Indianapolis, Indiana.”

At a private screening in August for cast, crew and family, this meets with applause.

Of course, the location is not the only interesting point about this romantic comedy, written and directed by Steve Marra and starring Randy Ryan (“Public Enemies”), Ariana Dubynin, Amy Esacove and Doug Johnson. The film also yields plenty of endearing performances and an engaging plot.

“Amanda” is the story of Joe (Ryan), a man who’s a little ... lonely. During a surprise party for Joe’s 40th birthday — where the guests flip on the lights right as he’s indulging himself — Amanda (Dubynin) walks in. She’s gorgeous, and Joe wants her immediately, even impressing her with a balcony view of the Indianapolis skyline.

Amanda is not bowled over, but she finally agrees to date Joe. She refuses to have sex, though, until they marry in a quickie ceremony. That’s where the trouble comes in. Amanda has a secret, which she tells Joe right after they’ve had sex for the first time.

And Joe is not cool with it.

He immediately rejects Amanda, files for divorce and tries  to start his life anew. But it’s not so easy.

As a romantic comedy, “Amanda” does its job well. It’s easy to watch, with a fun cast and enough turbulence in the story line to keep audiences locked in. Some of the dialogue is a little too snappy, and some of the plot twists might seem a bit of a stretch, but the risks that writer/director Marra takes make up for any shortcomings.

As the leads, Dubynin and Ryan are wholly invested, making for genuine performances. When Joe rejects Amanda after she reveals her secret past, the emotions that pour forth from both are palpable. These actors are not phoning it in.

Johnson, as Joe’s skeezy friend, and Esacove, as Stacy, are also bright points.

Marra presents his script with a masterful hand — it’s a great debut as his first feature-length writer/director project.


See the first public screening of “Amanda” at 7 p.m. Sept. 22 at Keystone Art Cinema, Keystone at the Crossing, 8702 Keystone Crossing. Free admission; register for tickets at

What other people are saying...

joeshearer from Noblesville - September 21, 2009 at 12:51 PM

Awesome! Nothing better than seeing local filmmakers succeeding!

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Drinky_McGee from Indianapolis - September 20, 2009 at 3:50 PM

This is a public service announcement. There aren't any tickets left for the screening. I know because, attracted by the siren song of "free", I ...


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