21 December 2006

I Love Your Work (2005, Th!nkfilm)

"Fifth letter. Stalker??"

Gray Evans (Giovanni Ribisi) is at the top of his acting career -- rich and famous and living a tumultuous life with a beautiful actress, Mia (Franka Potente) -- but underneath the glamour is paranoia and a sense of failure. While his costars read their fan mail, giggling at the writers' sad desperation and earnest belief that they share a connection, Evans barely glances at most of the letters, pausing only to make notes on those from repeat fans whom he suspects could be stalkers. In the meantime, he befriends young wannabe filmmaker John (Joshua Jackson) who reminds Evans of his younger self -- Evans had been in film school prior to acting and left/lost his first love, Shana (Christina Ricci) to be with Mia.

I Love Your Work is full of "art school" techniques with jumpy edits, odd lighting and angles, and creative use of audio (or lack thereof). It is clearly a pet-project for writer/director Adam Goldberg, filled with navel-gazing about fame and fortune, fans and tabloids, and yet I still enjoyed it. The saving grace is Ribisi's performance and the fiery chemistry he shares with Potente on screen. Ribisi builds Evans' paranoia to a fever pitch and then pushes it further; there are few actors who could have believably pulled off the climactic scenes.

Also watch for Jason Lee in a small role. Almost unrecognizable with his hair slicked back and lacking his signature Earl Hickey (My Name is Earl) mustache, he portrays one of Evans' creepier fans.

Bottom line: this is an arty independent film, despite all the star power in the cast, but it is an interesting angle on the price of fame and the world of the celebrity.

*** 1/2

Buy I Love Your Work at Amazon.ca