For her first time behind the lens of a feature film, Bell really made an impression. And, since Bell wrote, directed, and starred in this production, she also gets to take the lion’s share of the credit for its reception and success.
The story is partly an insider’s look at Hollywood, though a part of the business most people take for granted. It is partly a family relationship film (though those aspects are a bit weaker). It is certainly a romance, though that is far from the driving force. It is a comedy, more screwball than quiet. And, by the end, it is none of these things and something more, which is where Bell’s real talent came out for me. After all the fun and silliness, the heartswell and heartbreak, she turns the story 50 degrees and makes you see something different. It isn’t a twist ending; it is simply a new filter for the events that is both fair and natural.
As the lead, Bell (Boston Legal, Surface) stays within her comfort zone of nutty-sexy-intelligent-tough and slightly lost woman. It is the character type she built her name on. It is also a bit of the character of the film that weakens its sense of reality; it often feels uncomfortable with itself when real emotions try to build. However, hers is, by far, the most believable character in the story. The rest are all slightly heightened for comedic effect. As her sister, Watkins (Enough Said, Trophy Wife) comes closest to naturalistic, which makes sense as she interacts mostly with Bell herself.
But here are a host of other folks filling in the world and the story. Each getting their moments, though few with full stories. Melamed, best known for his voice, but who has recently resurfaced in front of camera, has the largest role. Like most of the men in the story, he is more caricature than real, but there is enough truth to allow you to accept him.
The rest of the cast is filled in with a host of solid performers with important supporting roles. Holden (Rizzoli & Isles), Martin (Contagion), Corddry (The Way Way Back), and Marino (Veronica Mars TV and movie) provide the core of those. In another example of art imitating life, there is also a heavily nepotistic Children’s Hospital connection with the cast; not entirely a surprise given Bell’s stint there in recent years. But sorta of amusingly appropriate given the Hollywood commentary in the film.
All the craft-speak aside, Bell created an entertaining story, that has more to it than you’ll first expect. While not quite as solid as another recent first feature, Don Jon, it is worth your time and I’m looking forward to her next movie. As she becomes more comfortable with emotion on screen, and reigns in the broader comedy just a little, more of her obvious talent as a story teller will show through.