Nailing satire in a comedy film is by no means an easy endeavor and Daniel Adams (“The Lightkeepers”, “The Golden Boys”) in his newest film ‘An L.A. Minute’ most certainty does not succeed. In fact, he does quite the opposite as he leans into the particular shortsightedness that he means to criticize.
This film uses the homeless crisis in L.A. as a backdrop to the potentially interesting relationship between a millionaire writer who has gained mass amounts of fame off his novel about a homeless serial killer, Ted Gould, Gabriel Byrne (“Mad To Be Normal“, “Carrie Pilby“) and an edgy performance artist who takes none of his crap and thus becomes his muse, Velocity Kiersey Clemons (“Dope“, “Transparent (TV)”).
The film starts visually strong with a quick satisfying foray into Ted’s world of Malibu mansions, penthouse suites, and disgruntled wait staff spitting into the food they prepared for their awful rich employers. There’s nothing particularly special or unique about this introduction, nonetheless it reveals to us the universe of the film quickly and efficiently.
The strength of the film starts to weaken as soon as the characters begin their dialogue. With overly theatrical delivering of lines and pointless time spent on unimportant characters, the film attempts to portray a world that is utterly and completely uninteresting. Right off the bat, we aren’t invested.
What is most disturbing about this film is not the portrayal of the insufferable attitude and obscene wealth of an L.A. crowd. That much we can handle. Instead, it’s the director’s use of deeply out of touch footage of real homeless people and camps around the city.
Not only does this footage look like it was filmed with an iPhone at night (proving to be starkly different from the way the rest of the scenes were filmed), but the way the footage is intercut into the film and overlaid with hip-hop music as an attempt to give the plot some authenticity or edge is very bizarre.
I found myself only being invested in the film when Velocity’s character, carried so effortlessly by Kiersey Clemons, was on screen. However, her authenticity and ease with which she brings to character just makes the overcompensating exchanges between the other characters kind of unbearable.
Unfortunately, Clemons’ character was not enough to hold up a film, which looks as though it was clumsily edited and poorly developed. However, what Adams fails to accomplish with plot development he makes up for in little pockets of moving dialogue, and well-written moments usually spearheaded by Clemons.
Every time one watches a movie to determine it’s worth, you must ask: What is it’s purpose? What is the director trying to achieve? And, were they successful?
From the very start, I couldn’t pin down what it was the director wanted to achieve. Was it a glimpse into the struggles of being homeless in Los Angeles? Was it to portray the superficiality of L.A.’s star-making business?
For a film to be successful and interesting, the purpose needs to be pinned down immediately. If Adams wanted to spread a message about wealth and greed, then he should have committed to this idea from the beginning and had a plot that supported it. Unfortunately, the film offers no takeaways.