Saturday, January 23, 2010

Review: One Hour Fantasy Girl (2009) [Reviewed By Kelsey Zukowski]

Starring: Kelly-Ann Tursi, Paul D. Nguyen, Joe Luckay, Jon Morgan Woodward
Written & Directed By: Michael Edgar Bravo
Grade: B+

One Hour Fantasy Girl is a striking, beautiful, and heartbreaking film. It’s a wonderfully composed movie with a lot of city shots; almost neon colored, but still muted and blurred. Michael Edgar Bravo plays with the speed during these cuts, making the big leagues of Hollywood, CA seem as chaotic, deceptive, and intimidating to the viewer as the characters feel lost in this atmosphere.

Brandi (Tursi) has been on her own since she was 15, now 20 she is still broke and struggling to just barely make it by. Her dream is to make it big in real estate. She needs $50,000 to invest before she can even attempt to get in the business. To make some quick money she becomes the “One Hour Fantasy Girl”, fulfilling any client’s fantasy. The only catch is she doesn’t actually have sex, kiss, and never goes completely nude. She is still under a lot of pressure to do some pretty twisted stuff as her business partner, Chi (Nguyen), is depending on his cut from her work to pay off his bills and make it big as a musician. One of his highest paying customers, Roger (Woodward), is in to the most out there stuff, having baby, dog, whipping, and other grotesque fantasies. Chi is counting on Brandi to fulfill his every wish as Roger is a record label executive, and could be his ticket to the big time if he keeps him happy.

One of Brandi’s new customer’s Bobby (Luckay), seems to take a much tamer approach. He is dying to see Brandi and when he gets the chance he has her strip, but once that’s done he just lies next to her. He tells her about a story he wrote, that tested a married couple’s self-control on whether they could restrain from sex for a year. Bobby quit college and hasn’t been able to hold down a job for more than a month. He tells Brandi that what he’s really looking for is discipline. He tells Brandi he thinks she’s strong and thinks she can help him be the same way. Most of their encounters are fully clothed with barely even touching, Bobby even often leaving earlier than the time he paid for. Brandi plans on staying emotionally detached, but as things turn even further upside down she finds herself needing someone to help her be strong and make it through. Bobby seems to be the only person who cares enough to do this. Brandi still has to question whether she really knows this guy enough to pack up and go away with him, leaving all of her struggles behind.

The performances were top notch, adding so much realistic emotion and depth. The stand out performance was definitely from Kelly-Ann Tursi as the lead. She brings out the fragility behind her hard exterior. Tursi always carries this overwhelming sadness to her, which is pretty understandable given her character’s situation and how she is degraded. She clearly has limits in what she will do for money, yet still knows how to be resourceful and get by on her own. She had to grow up fast, but she is still a little na├»ve. It’s really heartbreaking given how distant she is and everything she has to go through that the few times that she does trust someone it’s proven to her that she really is on her own. Tursi deals with all of this with great balance, even though she barely cracks a smile or opens herself up at all throughout the film, she still doesn’t overdue her unhappiness. The believability makes it seem all the more real. Just how disturbing Jon Morgan Woodward is as Roger speaks for itself in how good the performance is. He makes himself completely vulnerable and frightening. Especially seeing him in his everyday life as a record executive really makes you think of all of the dirty little secrets people have and reiterates the point of how little we really know people. Joe Luckay also did a pretty good job as the everyday nice guy. He seemed different, interesting, and caring. Yet even us as an audience we don’t know everything about him, leaving him somewhat unknown to us, but seeming as if he has good intentions all the same.

The one thing that I thought could have been improved on was Brandi’s development. I’m not sure if her character really grows are learns that much throughout the course of the film. She is taken advantage of and used, yet she continues to bit a little more trusting than she should be when she has lost nearly everything. I would have liked to get a little more of her past and just more of her thoughts. She never opens up, but this is still understandable given how many people have let her down and most of the time when we see her it’s her job to be detached and professional. Still when she starts to become a little closer to Bobby it would have been nice to see her share a bit more of herself. It really didn’t take anything away from the film, it just seemed like it could have been even more personal if it went that extra step.

One Hour Fantasy Girl is a completely captivating film; both tragic and wise. The direction it seemed to be going would have made for a good film as well, but I’m glad that some things sort of turned around though. Sure it would have been great for someone to have saved Brandi and to have someone help her out rather than her having to degrade herself just to get by. This isn’t the world that is portrayed in One Hour Fantasy Girl though, it’s much more dark, lone, and illusionary than this.