Meleeka Clary in Three Corners of Deception (Photo: TCD Productions)

★★ (out of four)
DIRECTED BY Meleeka Clary
STARS Meleeka Clary, Debra Danielsen

Dr. Meleeka Clary is the writer, director, and star of what’s being billed as a true story — her true story. In Three Corners of Deception, she plays herself, a college law professor falling in love with a guy named Melvin (portrayed by a half-dozen different actors throughout the film, a creative decision that backfires), getting married, and then suffering through not only an ugly divorce but also an even uglier custody battle.

Three Corners of Deception clocks in at approximately 160 minutes (that includes 20 minutes of closing credits), and such a length is perfectly acceptable if momentum can be maintained. Here, it cannot. The story proper takes forever to get underway, as Clary the director elected not to cut anything Clary the writer put down on paper. But even judicious editing could only have taken this so far, as production values are largely amateurish right down the line, including the cinematography and the sound. Some of the performances aren’t so hot, either.

If there’s one area in which the film excels, it’s as a showcase for Clary the actress. She’s perfectly at ease in front of the camera, and she delivers a naturalistic performance. It doesn’t matter that she’s basically playing herself: I’ve seen a number of people delivering terrible performances as themselves in movies (stuntman Evel Knievel in 1977’s Viva Knievel!, for starters), so she deserves praise for believably tackling all manner of emotions and thus creating a well-rounded screen character.

(Three Corners of Deception played in select theaters last winter and will debut on streaming later in 2022.)

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