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Dean has been stumped for some time in his attempt to produce a follow-up to "I was a Teenage Speed Freak," his incredibly successful graphic novel. His fans expect great things from him and his editor, Louise, is hounding him. Instead of working, however, Dean spends his time searching for his Argentine lover Pablo, who went out one night for cigarettes and never came back. Written by
Sujit R. Varma
Convoluted Combo of Film Noir and Black Comedy Satisfies Neither Genre's Standards
This is one odd hybrid of a movie as it mixes Raymond Chandler-style film noir sensibilities with an oblique black comedy sense to present an overly convoluted story of obsession and betrayal. That still sounds promising until you actually watch the 2004 film and witness so much false posturing and so many ridiculous story turns that it ends up being an utter misfire. Director David Moreton has a talent for creating a suitably decadent atmosphere for the unraveling mystery elements, but he cannot set nor maintain an emotional tone that makes sense for the viewer. A major part of the problem is the disjointed, overly stylized script by Moreton and David Hensley that seems to aim for a gay variant of "Pulp Fiction".
The plot focuses on LA-based graphic novelist Dean Seagrave, whose idyllic relationship with boyfriend Pablo ends suddenly when he disappears. In his desperate search, Dean flies off to Buenos Aires where he faces barriers in Pablo's domineering spitfire mother and a strange pair of siblings with an unexplained connection to Pablo. The various twists and revelations finally lead Dean to Pablo but at a price neither expects. David Sutcliffe (now of "The Gilmore Girls") has usually been a likable actor in small movie roles and larger TV ones, but with his first starring role in a feature film, he has been ill-served with an increasingly frustrating character. He responds by being alternately petulant and belligerent, the Ugly American prototype taken down several pegs due to his unfettered obsession. To Sutcliffe's defense, only a larger-than-life screen personality of the caliber of Nicholson or at least Russell Crowe could have any shot of success in the role.
In much briefer roles, Antonio Sabato, Jr., much ballyhooed for a frontal nudity flash, barely registers otherwise, while Sonia Braga hams it up as his mother. Somewhat better are Celina Font and Leonardo Brezizcki as the mysterious sister and brother, even though they have to play their roles so close to the vest as to become dramatically inert. Cast against type, Jennifer Coolidge is criminally wasted as Dean's aggressively indifferent editor. The preposterous ending simply compounds the pointlessness of the entire venture and the muddled motivations of the characters involved. On the debit side, cinematographer Ken Kelsch makes Buenos Aires look enticing, and composer Marco D'Ambrosio provides appropriately atmospheric music. The 2005 DVD contains an alternate ending, a couple of deleted scenes (including a striptease by Sabato), the original theatrical trailer and a making-of featurette, all of which provide limited prurient interest.
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