out of Five
Running time: 95
Enjoyable comedy with several laugh-out-loud moments and a terrific performance from Naomi Watts.
What's it all about?
Naomi Watts stars as aspiring actress Ellie Parker, who spends her days bouncing from audition to audition in L.A, frequently changing her clothes, hairstyle and make-up in the car as she drives. There isn't much plot to speak of, but we meet her rubbish boyfriend (Mark Pellegrino), her best friend Sam (Rebecca Rigg) and her agent (Chevy Chase), as well as a wannabe cinematographer (Scott Coffey, the film's
writer-director) who crashes into her car and later takes her to see Keanu Reeves' band in concert.
The film was shot over the course of four years and is an extension of a short film called Never Date An Actress that Watts and Coffey made before Watts became famous. The ultra low budget style (handheld cameras, natural lighting and sound) lends the film a raw documentary-like immediacy which works brilliantly.
Watts is terrific as Ellie Parker, switching rapidly from comedy to tragedy within auditions, just like Watts' character in David Lynch's Mulholland Drive. She portrays Ellie as a strong-minded character struggling to keep a lid on deep-seated insecurities, which we see a hint of during her therapy sessions.
The supporting cast are good too, particularly Chevy Chase and Rebecca Rigg, whose crying race scene with Watts is a comic highlight.
The script is superb, combining jet black comedy with sharply observed and all too believable insights into what it's like to be a struggling actress in L.A. It's also heartbreakingly sad in places, because it's clear that Ellie has talent and yet talent (contrary to every Hollywood cliche you've ever heard) is no guarantee of success.
In short, Ellie Parker is a thoroughly enjoyable film with a terrific performance from Naomi Watts and a superb supporting cast. Well worth seeking out. Recommended.