Our final movie of Flare 2015, Match stars one of our favourites. Well, one of everybody's favourites by now - Sir Pat. Written for the screen from his own play, Stephen Belber also directs here as Stewart takes the role of Tobi, a dance tutor at the Julliard school in New York. A bachelor who may or may not be gay, Tobi divides his time between his students, a Greek restaurant and a solitary home life - we initially catch him politely refusing the offer of a weekend away from a colleague.
All of this is disrupted by the arrival of Lisa and Mike Davis. They arrive on the false pretence of quizzing Tobi for Lisa's thesis. Things start happily enough, Tobi is only too enthusiastic to share his history and, you feel, actually spend some time with people interested in what he did. After lunch, the threesome retire to Tobi's apartment for drinks, weed and to continue the interview. Only then does it very rapidly become apparent that the couple are not there to write about Tobi's past - only one event interests Mike and that is his mother's dalliance with Tobi in the sixties. Mike is in his forties... Things do not go well.
Adapting work intended for the stage to the screen is a tricky business but here Belber has done a magnificent job, something you have to partly put that down to his superb cast. Everyone knows that Stewart is an almost unrivalled actor (and National Treasure) and his turn here is no exception. His Tobi goes from an outgoing, secure man to a self doubting, wounded animal in the space of 90 minutes and it's an impressive sight to behold. A life built on a hidden certainty is tested to the limits but he is not alone in having to deal with the revelations. Which brings us to Carla Gugino's Lisa. Gugino all but eclipses Stewart in places and that is no mean feat. Her Lisa is a woman at the end of her tether, agreeing to one last attempt at patching her husband's ego, brutalised by his father's abandonment of his mother decades before. As her and Tobi are left with the aftermath of a genuinely disturbing scene, the two grow close in the very best, non-cliched way and Gugino's performance as Lisa's tough exterior finally shatters will leave you in pieces. It is beautiful, terrifying, mortifying and uplifting all at once.
Match has it's issues, it's necessarily contrived and occasionally you question how quickly the characters transform but really, you won't dwell on this for long. With a standout cast (Matthew Lillard is fast becoming a very interesting actor), pitch perfect pacing and, considering the confined nature of the sets, some wonderful photography, Belber's movie leaves behind any doubts and makes for determinedly emotional viewing.