1 item from 2003
Hollywood spoiled brats (finally) get to strive for their 87 minutes of fame in "The Young Unknowns". This debut feature from writer/director/co-producer Catherine Jelski actually played the festival circuit in 2000 and is only now getting a limited release.
The title characters consist of four showbiz twentysomethings led by top-billed Devon Gummersall (TV's "My So-Called Life" and "Felicity"). He and his co-stars have roles that are meaty but perhaps more suitable for an acting monologue. It's doubtful that these pampered postpubescents can win over multiplex audiences in any meaningful fashion.
Gummersall plays Charlie, a narcissistic stoner/boozer and overgrown rich kid. Mom and Dad split up a decade earlier, each leaving town for other climes with younger, more beautiful mates. A chauvinist hothead, Charlie is a budding commercial director -- following in Dad's footsteps -- while he mans "the L.A. house" for London-based Pop.
That L.A. house is virtually the whole show here, as the first half of Jelski's film never strays from the home and pool. Because of this, "The Young Unknowns" reveals its stage origins early on. Interestingly, Jelski's inspiration was the 1969 Austrian play "Magic Afternoon" by Wolfgang Bauer of the theater of cruelty school.
The attempt to transfer Bauer's themes to turn-of-the-millennium Hollywood is commendable. The film, unfortunately, is not. Charlie's baby auteur declares that "story is dead; image rules." Watching this talkathon, it's hard to deny the point.
Shot in super 16 mm, the camera setups and directing choices are generally fine, though the sound could be better, as the dialogue is occasionally muffled. The cast (Arly Jover's disgusted foreign girlfriend, Eion Bailey's partying-psycho best buddy and Leslie Bibb's model/cokehead) meshes well. Gummersall and Bibb (lately of "ER") deserve bigger opportunities. Still, the constriction of both story and primary set becomes static, and Charlie's macho-versus-abandoned persona eventually gets tiresome.
"The Young Unknowns" is a curious exercise in the vein of David Rabe's "Hurlyburly" that needed greater dramatic heft than is exhibited by the industry lightweights it depicts. »
1 item from 2003
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