SIFF “Face the Music” Preview: Surrogate Valentine

Goh Nakamura and Chad Stoops in Surrogate Valentine

A San Franciscan singer/songwriter (Goh Nakamura) is hired to teach an over-the-top actor how to play the guitar for a film and ends up taking him on tour in Dave Boyle’s Surrogate Valentine.

Festival Screenings:

May 29 – 9:30 PM – Harvard Exit
May 30 – 3:30 PM – Admiral Theater

Buddy movies have enjoyed a particular resurgence of late (and have even spawned the terms “Bromance” and “Bromantic Comedies”) due to the success of films like The Hangover. Road movies too have been given the Galifanatic update with such theatrical “treats” as Due Date.” It hardly seems right that a movie like Surrogate Valentine can be filed in the same category, but it does chronicle the unlikely duo of Goh (Goh Nakamura) a San Francisco Elliott Smith-esque singer/songwriter and Danny (Chadd Stoops) as they traverse the West Coast. Goh (who is a real-life singer/songwriter) is hired by a filmmaker friend to teach the soap opera-turned-indie film actor how to play guitar for his first feature role. What Danny lacks in subtlety Goh has in spades (natural talent, drive, the ability to be quiet for longer than five minutes), but hilarity in the form of hipster jibes ensues. Goh: “Dude, you are so cheesy.” Danny: “It takes a lot of cheese to make a good sandwich.”

The film may not be super plot heavy (Danny talks Goh into taking him along to gigs in Seattle and LA where they run into a significant past flame of Goh’s played by Lynn Chen as well as groupies for both artist and actor), but it does do justice to the characters as their relationship goes from exasperation to bromanship. It is shot entirely in black and white and features some very recognizable scenes shot in Seattle.

It also brings the music of Goh Nakamura to good light as the film spotlights a few real life gigs in coffeshops and venues in Seattle, San Francisco, and LA. Nakamura makes his acting (is it acting if he plays himself?) debut in Surrogate Valentine is not entirely new to film. He has also provided scores to the Ridley Scott Films A Good Year, and Body of Lies as well as the Robert Benton Film Feast of Love starring Morgan Freeman and Greg Kinnear. More info for his music can be found on his website and Myspace page.

Here’s the trailer for Surrogate Valentine, which premiered at SXSW earlier this year:

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