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Two writers must face a dilemma that is common to anyone who has ever had an artistic friend: what happens when you have to give feedback, and the news isn't good? Sam, an aspiring screenwriter, and David, a successful magazine editor, have been pals for years. When David doesn't appreciate Sam's latest attempt, it opens a fissure in their friendship, one that spreads through the rest of their lives. Ultimately, both men must reevaluate their motivations to write, their need for praise and validation, and what it means to see yourself as you actually are.Written by
First of all, let me just assure you that I have no connection to this film or its makers whatsoever, I just randomly picked this up at the public library the other day out of sheer happenstance.
All I can say is:I was completely giddy after viewing it. I can't believe I had never heard of this film! Okay, so the production is slightly marred by a limited budget, but that ultimately does not detract from the overall effectiveness, as it relies solely on clever dialog and intelligent characters.
Basic Plot: A sophomoric LA screenwriter(Sam)eagerly seeks the advice (and, ultimately, validation) from his pedestrian/artistically- ambivalent buddy(David) on his latest screenplay and when the input is less than flattering, Sam questions both David's loyalty as a friend and his own merit as a writer. He ultimately tries to find validation from others, including his live-in girlfriend, but the feedback is at best dubious, and he subsequently begins a meltdown.
Now admittedly, this subject has been explored to varying degrees in other films (Solandz's Storytelling, Adaptation, and a handful of Woody Allen films come to mind) but what sets this film apart from the crop is that there is not one shred of hypocrisy on the part of the filmmakers: the film is very, very humble in the way it explores the neuroses of its characters. It does not condescend to it's subjects the way (I believe) the aforementioned films tend to do (don't get me wrong, I think those films are absolutely brilliant and pioneering in their own right). This film comically, yet honestly, examines the role of human ego in the creative process, while openly questioning the screenwriter's motivation for wanting to tell stories in the first place.
The structure of the film is appropriately straight-forward, but there are plenty of surprises, and the film earns them. The two main characters get the job done and the scene with the late Karen Black had me in stitches- I completely forgot what an astounding actress Black really was. She delivers a show-stealing performance so nuanced and hilariously dead-pan that it must be seen to be believed. The beauty of her scene is that she brilliantly walks the shaky line between being an absurd caricature and a conduit of truth: she is completely integral to conveying the film's message without spelling anything out to the audience. One has to read between the (utterly hilarious)lines.
What else can I say without mentioning spoilers? The film is unapologetic to its characters as it gleefully confronts topics that I suspect many people in creative professions avoid (again, the role of narcissism and ego in the creative process). I have the sinking suspicion that this independent winner will not reach many audience members that would most benefit from seeing it.
The most telling aspect of the film's integrity is that it was clearly made by people who knew that it would never get a wide release, make millions of dollars, or catapult their careers into mainstream viability. It was made to be made, simply because the filmmakers had something substantial to get off their chests.
The fact that the film is both keenly observant,thought-provoking,and truly hysterical makes it some kind of small miracle.
**** Stars. Seriously, see it!
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