Johnny Ryan (Caan) is a successful novelist whose writing lacks one thing: life experience. Then he meets Mercy (Glenn), a literary critic and not-so-easy conquest. The two embark on a charming love affair that ends badly. But a nonlinear plot keeps the audience from learning just how the relationship ends until we see its beginning and its aftermath. This disjointed timeline is initially confusing, but when all is revealed makes for an endearing love story.
Caan, who also wrote and produced Mercy, is convincing as a silver-tongued womanizer and even as a man experiencing love for the first time. And his onscreen chemistry with Glenn is undeniable, a rare commodity. But his attempts to express real sentiment feel contrived. He simply fails to be compelling when conveying extreme emotions. Caan’s lucky that his writing is better than his acting.
Although Caan still needs to further develop his writing chops, Mercy is an interesting take on an age-old story. It doesn’t have the most original or engaging dialogue, but every so often there’s a line or a scene that is perfectly evocative of a genuine life experience. And it’s this handful of strong moments that shows Caan’s promise as a screenwriter.