There’s so much I could say about this film that it’s hard to know where to start. But here’s what I’ve got.
Azim Rizk (L) and Arielle Brachfeld (R)
The opening scenes evoke classic “We’re in La La Land” imagery. However, before we’re treated to a flowing visual sweep of palm trees (and California sunshine flickering through the fronds), we are in the dark, listening to the soothing, rhythmic intonation of
psychobabble a motivational speaker psychotherapy/hypnotism session. It doesn’t hurt any that the voice is that of Peter Bogdanovich.
Peter Bogdanovich (lurking in the shadows)
The client is our protagonist—a
poverty-stricken down-on-her-luck, struggling actress named Priscilla (played by Arielle Brachfeld).
She works at a diner with the distinction of having its servers dress up like Marilyn Monroe. The question at the heart of the story is: how much is she willing to do to become rich and famous?
Camilla Jackson (L) and Arielle Brachfeld (R)
And I really cannot say much more about the plot without completely spoiling it.
Yet, I can’t stop there, because I wouldn’t be doing the film justice. I should note that this is an indie film production that equals anything a big studio could produce. And strikingly so, given the reportedly low budget. (The producers make maximal and frugal use of the L.A. landscape.) The cast is stellar and the production values tip-top. And, yes, the writing is awesome.
The cinematography is a neo-noir feast for the eyes. There’s also a “you are there” feel in the tracking shots that heighten the plot’s tension.
The theme and characters mimic those you’d expect from movies by David Lynch, Quentin Tarantino, or the Coen Brothers. However, beneath the modern veneer, the classic film noir plot twists and character types lurk, emerging now and then from the depths.
I’ll only say two more things about the story, which I don’t think are spoilers.
When did you last see a movie villain torture (psychologically) a child AND make you laugh about it? (Really!)
Now, think of a typical neo-noir trope about villains, femme fatales, self-help programs, and therapy. And, now … turn it on its head. Period.
Among the sly references I caught:
That man on the beach, looking out to sea. Is that a Barton Fink callback?
wackos bizarre people odd strangers Priscilla waits on at the diner. Shades of Pulp Fiction? A hint of David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive? (I kept waiting for the “Monster in the Back” to show up.)
Nonetheless, those characters could just as easily appear in such classic heist films as The Asphalt Jungle and The Killing, with a dash of … can’t tell you. Spoilers! 🙂
Bottom line: it’s all so classic film noir. But for the cellphones.
Plus, prepare to enjoy a chase scene on staircases that will leave you … dare I say it? … Breathless! 🙂
Azim Rizk. And is it me or …
Is there a resemblance? 🙂
Jean-Paul Belmondo in “Breathless”.
Check out the trailer!
Here’s the movie’s Facebook page. And you can follow it on Twitter.
Watch the movie on Prime Video or on iTunes.
Disclosure: This reviewer received a free screener link for purposes of reviewing the film.