out of Five
Running time: 100
Low-budget ensemble piece by Steven Soderbergh And His Friends, about a group of people all vaguely related to the film industry.
Enjoyable comedy-drama that’s like a low-budget, box-of-tricks version of The Player – packed with in-jokes for movie buffs, it’s worth seeing, even if it does occasionally feel like Soderbergh just goofing around with his mates.
More sex, more lies and more videotape
Full Frontal has been billed as ‘the unofficial sequel to sex, lies and videotape’. Essentially what this means is a) they had no idea how to market it (it was made before Solaris and flopped in the States) and b) that it’s an extremely low-budget, ‘back to basics’-type film. And, also, it’s a good excuse to get the word ‘sex’ on the poster. Shot in a mere 18 days, on a combination of film and Digital Video, Full Frontal is enjoyable, if ultimately not quite as clever as it thinks it is.
The plot takes several different characters, all of whom are vaguely related to the film industry and have one thing in common – they’re all invited to producer Gus Delario’s (David Duchovny) 40th birthday bash. (An early sequence introduces each character with a photo and voiceover, along with a caption explaining who invited them).
Pitt playing Pitt
The main characters are: movie journalist and screenwriter Carl (David ‘Niles from Frasier’ Hyde Pierce), who is married to Lee (Catherine Keener), who is having an affair with actor Calvin (Blair Underwood). He, in turn, is playing a character in a movie (“Rendezvous” – shot on film, everything else is on video) named Nicholas, who has just landed a part as Brad Pitt’s (Brad Pitt) sidekick in a movie, while at the same time, in the
movie-within-the-movie, ‘Nicholas’ is being interviewed by ‘Catherine’, played by the “actress” Francesca (Julia Roberts).
Meanwhile, Lee’s sister Linda (Mary McCormack) is a masseuse to the stars and considering flying to Tucson to meet someone she met on the internet, who, by coincidence, happens to be the co-writer (with Carl) of “Rendezvous”, who is currently directing Nicky Katt in a play about Hitler called “The Sound and the Fuhrer”. Confusing? Perhaps, but part of the fun is in watching the various other connections between the main and bit-part characters unfold.
Gor blimey Terence…
There are lots of in-jokes in Full Frontal, including a cameo by Terrance Stamp (still in character for The Limey), a character the credits name as “Harvey, probably” (a convincing lookalike for Harvey Weinstein) and lines such as “a black man kissing a pretty woman under a pelican moon” (referring to the non-relationship between Roberts and Denzel Washington in The Pelican Brief.
Luckily, it’s frequently very funny, as a result of the deceptively tight script. It has lots of good lines (“Post its!”) and the performances are excellent, with Hyde Pierce, Keener, Katt and Duchovny’s central cameo all stand-outs. Brad Pitt fans may also want to stay till after the credits have rolled. Worth seeing.