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USA 2016
Directed by
Michael Chrisoulakis
93 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

Los Angeles Overnight

Synopsis: It’s modern day Los Angeles and Priscilla Anders (Arielle Brachfeld), a waitress and aspiring Hollywood actress is about to throw in the towel on her going-nowhere career when she overhears a group of odd-balls talking about “applejacks”, a "rabbit hole” and “the neon”. Soon enough she and her devoted new boyfriend (Azim Rizk) unciver a large cache of stolen money and Priscilla’s hopes for her career are revived. Well, at least briefly.

Los Angeles Overnight is a low-budget indie feature that impresses across the board. Writer Guy J. Jackson and director Michael Chrisoulakis deliver a refreshingly original, off-beat thriller with a pronounced Lynchian sensibility and a sense of black humour that Tarentino would appreciate. In the lead Arielle Brachfeld is a winning protagonist, goofy enough to fit with the off-kilter vibe yet sexy enough (particularly in a peach-coloured Marilyn Monroe wig) to be the unintentional femme fatale who costs some unfortunate men (and maybe one woman) their lives. A strong support cast includes Lin Shaye as a wacky self-styled entrepreneur and Peter Bogdanovich as a New Age hypnotherapist.

The first half of the film is the best. It opens with Priscilla in a well-appointed office being hypnotized into success by Bogdanovich’s New Age patter and then shows us her in her job as a Monroe look-alike in a cheap diner, the closest thing she has come to her dreams of stardom. When she’s not at work in the crummy diner she’s  being passed over repeatedly at auditions. Priscilla’s subdued desperation and her slightly surreal low rent shopping strip work-place have an evident communality with David Lynch’s banally dysphoric America Dream, an affinity strengthened by Stefan Colson’s attention-grabbing cinematography, Jahmilla Jackson’s witty art direction and Michael Lira atmospheric music.

Once Priscilla finds the money and is thus able to pursue her dream the film loses its off-beat qualities somewhat and becomes tonally darker. She becomes a more calculating character and film calls on the familiar tropes of the crime thriller as the bad guys do what bad guys do in pursuit of what they believe is theirs. All this is counterpointed by Bogdanovich's beguilingly sonorous voice-over. The result it that our sympathies for Priscilla tend to wane. Intentional perhaps but not so good from an audience engagement point-of-view. From this point on too the dysphoric tends to becomes the disjointed as the plot mechanics become increasingly elliptical, the script simply quoting the standard moves required to arrive at a narrative resolution.

Even so, what is good about Los Angeles Overnight far outweighs what is not and as a partly crowd-funded low budget debut feature it is an unusually impressive achievement.




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