Louis Ives (Paul Dano) is a soft spoken, polite, and quiet young Princeton prep school teacher who loves literature and is driven by a secret fascination with cross-dressing. After losing his job, he decides to test himself in New York where he hopes to eventually establish himself as a writer. He rents a small room from Henry Harrison (Kevin Kline), a former playwright who keeps a bowl of Christmas tree ornaments as the centerpiece of his living room. It is clear to Louis that this lively and oftentimes eloquent gentleman is going to play a major role in his ongoing maturation. But first things first, he has to get a job.

Louis is hired by a small environmental magazine and is immediately enthralled by Mary (Katie Holmes), a pretty coworker who is a zealot for a green lifestyle. In his mind's eye, he sees her as a contemporary version of F. Scott Fitzgerald's Daisy in The Great Gatsby. But the lion's share of his time and energy is spent on his blooming friendship with Henry, who introduces him to his vocation as an extra man — someone who accompanies older high society women to social and cultural events in Manhattan in exchange for free meals and other perks. Although Henry loves to dance and sing, this dandy tells Louis that he can't bring any women to the apartment: "No fornication." Henry is right on the mark when he admits to having sexual views "to the right of the Pope." In one of the many odd moments in the drama, this extra man teaches Louis how to sneak into the opera without paying. He also introduces him to Gershon (John C. Reilly), a weird neighbor with a wild beard and unkempt hair who speaks in a strange falsetto.

The Extra Man is directed by Robert Pulcini based on a book of the same title by Jonathan Ames. The screenplay by Ames, Shari Springer Berman, and the director does a beautiful job conveying the flaws and the foibles of Henry and Louis. We hope for the best of all possible outcomes for the indigent and imaginative mentor and his young protégé, who struggles with his unconventional sexuality. In one of the most touching scenes, Louis takes Henry's place as an escort for a regular client, Vivian (Marian Seldes), and the old woman finds him to be a gentleman of the highest caliber and quality. Manners and gentleness can make a man into something special.

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