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Raymond De Felitta
In London's contemporary art world, everyone has a hustle. Art Spindle runs a high-end gallery: he hopes to flip a Mondrian for millions. One of his assistants, Beth, is sleeping with Art's most acquisitive client, Bob Macclestone. Beth wants Bob to set her up in her own gallery, so she helps him go behind Art's back for the Mondrian. Bob's wife, Jean, sets her eye on a young conceptual artist, Jo, who lusts after Art's newest assistant, Paige. Meanwhile, self-absorbed lesbian videographer Elaine is chewing her way through friends and lovers looking to make it: if she'll throw Dewey, her agent, under the bus, Beth may give her a show. And the Mondrian? No honor among thieves. Written by
Dull ensemble piece or overly pretentious art flick?
A comment on the pretentious and wealthy but ruthless world of art and art dealers, where it is difficult to tell if it is taking itself seriously or not. The plot is not just one paper-thin story, but in fact seems to be several strands that randomly inter-connect with each other, all loosely revolving around the painting from which the film gets its name. Numerous characters seem to want to purchase the painting, while the owner refuses to sell, even to ward off financial ruin, as he clings to his 'most prized possession'. What follows is the ensemble bickering over numerous pieces of art in several plot lines, but the attempt at a multi-character multi-strand plot a la Magnolia only comes across as a pale imitation - or art merely imitating life!
The characters all have different roles in the high-end art world of London, with dealers, artists and gallery owners all vying with each other, backstabbing each other - and sleeping with each other -to demonstrate their various arty credentials. Unfortunately, with nearly all of them having more money than they know what to do with other than spend it on the latest ridiculously over-priced 'masterpiece', very few of them appear to have any redeeming features, leaving barely a single character for the audience to actually like.
Quite the ensemble cast lends the piece considerable artistic weight - including Gillian Anderson, Stellan Skarsgard, Heather Graham, Joanna Lumley, Danny Huston, Alan Cumming, Charlotte Rampling and the venerable Christopher Lee, who all serve to highlight the film's seemingly lofty art house ambitions. Most of the cast do their jobs adequately but without really standing out from the cluttered cast list, although Danny Huston's attempt at scenery-chewing and film-stealing is little more than grating, with the pseudo-evil chuckles and 'god-damn its!' only missing a scene chewing on a stogie and bacon sandwich to make his performance any more hammy.
The plot (such as it is) manages to be both dully pretentious and simultaneously ludicrous; even the title itself adds to the film's uncertain nature - is it a serious comment or a satire? It's rather difficult to tell, and with very little in the way of narrative thrust, the film just meanders seemingly aimlessly along. The numerous plot strands are occasionally difficult to keep track of, It's a good job most of the cast are quite pretty - better works of art than the paintings and statues that they squabble over.
Overall, rather a load of pretentious, self-important twaddle.
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