Worth A Look: 7.69%
Just Average: 50%
Pretty Crappy: 0%
2 reviews, 14 user ratings
|Prey for Rock and Roll
This is a maddening movie that is definitely worth a look, despite some terrible faults. Making it worthwhile are uniformly fine performances, particularly an especially charismatic and dynamic one from Gina Gershon in the lead role.What is it about Gina Gershon?
"Pray for Gina Gershon; she needs our prayers"
Gershon came to everyone’s notice giving a particularly wonderful performance in the utterly dreadful Showgirls, a film so bad it’s become a byword as a Hollywood bomb. There’s something perverse about an actor giving their all in such a cause, but she made her little bit of the movie work and became a sex symbol for a lot of men (and, for that matter, a lot of women) through her work in that film.
Her next big role, and still the best she’s ever had, was as the supremely confident lesbian fixit gal Corky in the barely-distributed Bound, the first film of the Wachowski brothers. A gender-busting re-take on film noir, Gershon was incandescent as the tough, competent hero who outwits the mob, gets away with the money, and gets the girl (Jennifer Tilly). At least Bound had a good script for Gershon to throw herself into; something worthy of her evident talent and sex appeal, despite the limited audience that would be interested in it.
Gershon’s career since then has been a fog of forgettable or forgotten roles, like the bad guy’s girlfriend in Face/Off, a solid supporting performance (one step up from a cameo) in the indie Guinevere, and the tough-as-nails corporate lawyer who explains the law to the heroes in The Insider.
Why can’t this woman get her talent, a good part, and a good script together all at the same time?
Now we have Prey for Rock and Roll, and once again we have to settle for two out of three. Gershon’s got a good part and she’s wonderful in it. But the script, from first-time screenwriters Cheri Lovedog and Robin Whitehouse, has a terrible case of the dread First-Time Scriptwriter’s Disease.
Gershon plays Jacki, the 40-year-old leader of a rock band who is realizing that maybe she isn’t going to make it as a rock star. It’s easy to see why Gershon, who executive produced the film, was attracted to it. The similarities between her own situation, always on the verge of stardom, and Jacki’s are striking, and she throws herself into the part with an energy that’s infectious.
The rest of the cast is similarly good, and totally convincing in their parts. Lori Petty plays Faith, the lead guitarist, who is having an affair with the drummer, Sally, played by Shelly Cole. Drea de Matteo plays the bassist, Tracy, a rich screw-up whose life is being taken over by the drugs and alcohol she consumes.
The big thing the movie has going for it is an unforced authenticity; if you’ve ever known a band trying to make it, this movie gets the details of their lives precisely right. The script, which apparently was based on the life experiences of Cheri Lovedog, benefits from her familiarity with the terrain. Unfortunately, Ms. Lovedog is also responsible for the film’s two biggest weaknesses.
The first weakness actually fits into the movie. Despite the energy and talent of the band, their Achilles' heel is their music, supposedly written by Jacki, and actually written mostly by Lovedog. The music makes you understand why the band hasn’t made it—it is terrible. There’s not a single song in here you can remember ten minutes after hearing it. There's not a single song here you WANT to remember ten minutes after hearing it.
In one scene, after something traumatic occurs, Jacki deals with her pain by writing a song about it. The overly earnest, embarrassingly maudlin song she comes up with is so very bad, I wondered if they were doing it intentionally. I don’t think so, though; I think the filmmakers were under the impression the music is good.
Gershon throws herself into her singing, and she does okay, but there’s a moment when Jacki jokes with Tracy that she’s decided they should become a cover band, and my immediate reaction was oh, would you please?
The other weakness Cheri Lovedog brings to the film is the First-Time Scriptwriter’s Disease, mentioned earlier. She creates interesting, believable characters, she knows how they talk and how they live, but she doesn’t know what to do with them to dramatize the central issue of the movie, which is Jacki’s worries about where her life is going and what happens next.
So a bunch of arbitrary incidents occur, as the writer tries desperately to get some purchase on the story. I once heard it referred to in passing by Robert Towne as “the if-all-else-fails strategy, where a writer tries to get something going by having one of his characters hit by a bus.” This screenplay actually descends to that cliche, killing off Lori Petty’s character near the end of the movie, though with a just a car rather than a bus. I wish she had gone full-bore and hit her with a bus. Rape, trauma, vigilante action, accidental death—it comes across as a very busy week for these gals.
A lot has been made about the easy-going sexuality of the movie, with Jacki being bisexual, Faith and Sally being lesbians, and Tracy being straight, but the movie doesn’t have anything to say about that, really. It’s just Lovedog being accurate to the folks she knows and the attitude prevalent amongst the 20-something generration she hangs out with that it’s no big deal.It ends up an okay, if over-busy movie. But we’re stilling waiting for a movie where Gina Gershon gets it all together.
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originally posted: 10/03/03 17:35:31
|OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Sydney Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Sydney Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Brisbane Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Brisbane Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Tribeca Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Tribeca Film Festival series, click here.