|The central question in Steven Soderbergh's film, Full Frontal is whether Blair Underwood will get a movie role. No, it's whether David Hyde Pierce will lose his wife, played by Catherine Keener. Actually, it's whether Mary McCormack will get on a plane to Tucson to see Enrico Colatoni. And who knows what Julia Roberts is doing in the movie.|
So many stories and no real explanation of why the audience is shown them. There's no one to root for in this film, and even worse, no one to even care about. Horrible cinematography is punctuated with stagnant scenes of less than stellar dialogue and a non-existent soundtrack. Perhaps it was Steven Soderbergh's experiment with insanity, or perhaps he felt the need to make a picture that would easily give its viewers headaches. It was definitely some sort of experiment in cinematic weirdness. Most of these characters can be put into two categories. The first include Enrico Colatoni and Julia Roberts. They are but a few of the movie within a movie within a movie players who have minor problems. Mostly problems of love and relationships.
And then there are people like David Hyde Pierce and Catherine Keener who are in need of serious psychological help. All the stories of these sometimes down and out actor-types are woven together in a particularly bad bit of cinematography, and it's impossible to be all that interested in whatever these characters are droning on about. In the beginning of the film the entire cast is introduced via still photographs and character narration in a very stilted few minutes. It's unclear whether Soderbergh intended these introductions, where the characters say something about themselves, to be a humorous part of the movie or if they were just normal introductions. These introductions set up a very confusing beginning to the film.
There are several complications in the movie that don't allow viewers to just sit back and watch the film. It's almost like an exercise in patience to determine just what it is these characters are involved in. The first of these complications includes a very degraded picture during about two-thirds of the scenes. The screen looks like someone scraped a piece of sandpaper across it. All of these sequences look as if they're out of focus as well. This style might be called documentary-like, but as there seems to be no real reason for it, the way the screen looks acts as a barrier between the audience and the characters. People watching this film will never forget that they're just watching a movie.
It's impossible to just get lost in the story. And that is the main deterrent to being able to fully enjoy this film. The audience is subjected to a series of stories from characters that aren't particularly likeable, and has to put up with a scratchy screen to boot. But cinematography aside, as it might actually intrigue some people that the director would go to such lengths to ensure that his picture was practically un-viewable, the comedic parts in this film are actually worth holding onto. If you know something about the movie industry. In some respects, this is a movie maker's film, in that knowing about how things are out in Hollywood is a definite plus to getting the "in" jokes littered throughout the script.
The running gag concerning Brad Pitt (he plays himself in the film) and his amount of fame is one of the few jokes that people who just go to the movies to enjoy them might get. Another joke involves a man who dresses like a vampire all the time is something else that any audience member might enjoy. But how many audience members who aren't intimate with the film industry are going to understand that scene with Harvey Weinstein? Though some of the inside Hollywood information might float right over the heads of mainstream audiences, this picture's main fault is that none of its actors is enjoyable on the screen. This could stem from a lack of story or the uninteresting dialogue, but because this movie is such an experiment on so many levels, it's hard to find elements to enjoy.
Attending this film for its comedic output would be a futile experience because the jokes come around only once an act or so. And since the story of the film is quite confusing, just enjoying this film is absolutely impossible. The satirizing of Hollywood actors and their foibles has been attempted before. Sometimes with more success and sometimes without it, and Full Frontal more resembles a joke Steven Soderbergh wanted to play on his audience. After his success with Ocean's 11, a completely mainstream but well made film, his complete 180 into the territory of the bizarre has resulted in a film whose experience is not an enjoyable one, but neither is it educational.
Review by Kelsey Wyatt.