Berlin Critics Week 2017
SXSW, Docville, Sarasota, San Francisco, Champs Élysées
Five people pursue unlikely aspirations of Hollywood fame in this hybrid.
Mike Ott’s unusual hybrid documentary comedy features several hopeless would-be actors, as well as one aspiring screenwriter, ostensibly auditioning their talents, and then later briefly interviewed – sometimes about their entertainment dreams, but also awkwardly about personal matters, from virginity to homelessness to mental health issues. While some of their scenes appear to be staged – particular conversations in cars conducted by the film’s fifth ostensible subject, Cory Zachariah – they otherwise seem to be genuine. Zachariah, on the other hand, is a real working actor who has appeared in Ott’s previous films, but here has supposedly never held down a job and struggles with basic literacy and math, making his narrative the most obviously fictional, and the one that takes up the majority of the screen time. Apparently sending himself up, the attractive, lanky Zachariah is a loveable loser of sorts, but his dominance of the project has the effect of drowning out the other subjects and whatever truths that they might have teased out. Ott intentionally means to upend expectations of what is real and what is not here, but as with most hybrid projects, it seems unclear what benefit that lack of clarity ultimately serves. He and his collaborators are talented filmmakers, but this project decidedly won’t be to everyone’s taste.