Search This Blog

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Imogene (Girl Most Likely)

So, I'll get to this week's genuinely good movies in a bit.

This review is also up at Channel 24

What it's about

Imogene is a failed playwright who moves from New York to live with her dysfunctional family in New Jersey, but what she finds there may just be even worse than she remembers.

What we thought

Imogene, or as it known in most other territories, Girl Most Likely has a good cast led by one of the funniest actresses of her generation but is the sort of quirky indie movie that gives quirky indie movies a bad name.

OK, that's probably a bit unfair as the worst examples of quirky indie films are usually horribly pretentious (see Greenberg for a particularly egregious example of this) so Imogene is hardly the worst that the genre has to offer but it's still a bit of a noodly, directionless mess that badly wastes the talents of Kristen Wiig, Matt Dillon (where has he been hiding?) and Annette Bening. Worst of all, for an alleged comedy it's sadly pretty free of laughs.

If that plot synopsis seems a bit vague, it's because the film doesn't seem to be too troubled trying to figure out its plot as it throws everything at the wall from searches for lost parents to quirky nutso siblings to a weirdly surreal crime sub-plot but very little of it actually sticks. Without much in the way of plot then, the film has to rely on its characters, its emotions and its dialogue and none of these particularly rise to the occasion either.

The best thing I can say about the film is that for all that there's really very, very little to it, it's a surprisingly un-annoying, even fairly pleasant watch, which is a lot more than I can say for something like Greenberg. I know this seems like damning the film with faint praise but considering how much this sort of thing could so easily grate on the nerves, that it's still basically enjoyable despite itself isn't necessarily something to be sneezed at or written off.

Unsurprisingly, the film's biggest ace in the whole – the reason why it is as thoroughly not terrible as it is - is Wiig. She may essentially be playing a significantly less funny version of her character in Bridesmaids but she is a) very good at playing that particular sort of downtrodden single white female and b) simply a terrifically charming and likeable screen presence who can elevate even half baked scripts like we have here. And I for one would love to see her play opposite Annette Bening again as well as there is definitely something to the way they work off one another.

While the least disappointing parts of the film are therefore clearly that which lies in front of the camera, by far the most disappointing thing about Imogene is that the talent behind the camera are capable of so very much more. Co-directors Robert Pulcini and Shari Springer Berman are the team responsible for the fairly brilliant American Splendor, an ingenious little movie that is both a live action adaptation of Harvey Pekar's groundbreaking comic book series of the same name and a bio-pic of the man himself. And, of course, that film wasn't actually released in cinemas here.

Which brings me to what may well be my biggest beef with the film: that it's being shown on the big screen in this country, while so many better indie films (and even mainstream-ish Hollywood flicks like Serenity and The World's End) are only available, if we're lucky, on DVD months down the line. I guess I should be glad that something as off-kilter as Imogene is being released to cinemas in South Africa, especially as it is basically watchable, but why can't the same be said for stuff like Smashed, Liberal Arts, Safety Not Guaranteed or The Giant Mechanical Man, to name a few recent indie flicks that are all noticeably better? I know the movie distribution business is a difficult one right now, but some of these decisions are just so baffling. Still, best to not look a gift horse in the mouth (whatever that means), I suppose.

No comments:

Post a Comment