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Film review: 'Fashionably L.A.'

2 December 1999 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

It's not surprising that this debut feature from Tamara Olson, a former model, would display an insider's knowledge and feel for the exploitative practices of the modeling biz in Los Angeles. What is surprising is that "Fashionably L.A". would use so many of the sleazy devices that it pretends to decry.

For its recent world premiere at the Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) International Film Festival, the film's prominent and ubiquitous promotional materials featured a revealing shot of no less than five gorgeous naked women, and the film itself wastes no opportunity to reveal its female performers in various states of undress.

The film centers on the adventures and travails of five L.A. runway models: Kassidy (writer-director Olson, in a highly appealing performance), an eternally frustrated aspiring actress; Simone (Darienne Arnold), whose beauty is exceeded only by her vanity; Arielle (Holly Laningham), who hasn't completely lost her Midwestern innocence; the party-loving Jessalyn (Miranda Gibson); and Tatia (Jenya Lano), a sexually voracious Czech. The free-form narrative uses the idea of the women being filmed for a documentary, complete with direct-to-the-camera interviews, but the device is used in haphazard fashion at best.

"Fashionably L.A". is for the most part an anecdotal account of the various insults the women are forced to endure as they trot from one assignment to the next, interrupted by supposedly comic interludes ranging from a blundered attempt at practicing a striptease to a hard-to-endure lip-synched rendition of "I Got You Babe". Although mostly farcical in tone, the film occasionally veers into melodrama, as with its depiction of one of the women resorting to turning tricks to pay for her upcoming wedding.

Many of the details of the film bear the stamp of authenticity, but the awkward plotting, unpolished technical aspects, clunky dialogue and less-than-exceptional performances detract from its overall impact. Still, if it dissuades even just one young girl from entering a profession rife with humiliation and indignity, it will have performed a valuable function.

FASHIONABLY L.A.

Glam Slam Prods.

Writer-director:Tamara Olson

Producers:Ania Sikorska, Patricia Hanten

Executive producer:Adrianna A.J. Cohen

Cinematographer:Steve Yedlin

Editors:Ray Daniels, Daniel Candib, Arthur Klein, William Grayburn

Music:Mark Kilian

Production designer:Jay Spratt

Color and black & white/stereo

Cast:

Kassidy:Tamara Olson

Simone:Darienne Arnold

Arielle:Holly Laningham

Jessalyn:Miranda Gibson

Tatia:Jenya Lano

Running time -- 92 minutes

No MPAA rating

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1 item from 1999


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