Written by: Giuseppe Rijitano on April 18th, 2010
Theatrical Release Date: UK, June 26th, 2009
Director: Duncan Ward
Writer: Danny Moynihan
Cast: Gillian Anderson, Alan Cumming, Heather Graham, Danny Huston, Jack Huston, Christopher Lee, Joanna Lumley, Simon McBurney, Meredith Ostrom, Charlotte Rampling, Amanda Seyfried, Stellan Skarsgård
DVD Released: April 19th, 2010
Approximate Running Time: 94 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Rating: 15 (UK)
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1 English, Dolby Digital Stereo English
DVD Release: E1 Entertainment
Region Coding: Region 2 Pal (UK)
Retail Price: £12.99
A multi-narrative film set in the British art scene. Interweaving the lives and stories of a group of connected individuals; from the all powerful amoral art dealer (named Art, really, played by Danny Huston) to the hesitant sellers (Christopher Lee, Joanna Lumley) to the buyers with more money than sense (Stellan Skarsgard, Gillian Anderson) to the ruthless up and coming artists (Jaime Winstone, Jack Huston) to the naive assistants (Amanda Seyfried, Heather Graham) to the desperate hangers on (Alan Cumming).
The main plot thread, there are a few, involves Danny Huston attempting to finagle a Mondrian painting worth $20 million (the titular Boogie Woogie) from ailing fatcat Christopher Lee. Another thread follows the likes of young artists Jaime Winstone and Jack Huston’s differing but parallel attempts at attaining their 15 minutes of fame. Plus there’s fragile young intern Seyfried and her unborn twin, suicidal Alan Cumming and scheming butler Simon McBurney all in the mix.
Pretty much everyone in the film is pretending to be something they aren’t, and those who are genuine are so loathsomely self-centered you couldn’t care less about them. Once again it is proven that an impressive cast list does not a good movie make. There are good performances certainly; Lumley, Lee, Skarsgard and Cumming are all passable but due to the episodic intertwined nature of the story their characters are never really given time to develop and shine. Danny Huston pulls out his standard character actor shtick yet again, his creepy cackling initially amusing eventually becomes just grating. Gillian Anderson is quite good as the aging desperate to stay relevant socialite giving a drunken blow job to a hot young artist in a men’s room, interrupted by husband Skarsgard. The less said about stony faced avant-garde lesbian artist Jaime Winstone the better.
Reaching for the Altman-esque style of The Player or Prêt-à-Porter which is unfortunately out of it’s reach this film only really succeeds in showing us the obnoxious side of the London art scene. Despite Damian Hirst being credited as a consultant there is little insight into the art world other than a bunch of pretentious air-kissing caricatures – but then maybe that’s the point! The jazzy piano score needs to be taken out and shot. The film does look good though, set in the (presumably pre-crunch) present day it evokes the 60’s in it’s overall style and substance.
Not much to report here, the 1.85:1 Anamorphic widescreen picture looks perfect and the 5.1 audio track sounds great. As you would expect from any competently put together new release. No subtitles though, oddly enough for a R2 UK disc.
Extras; a 16 minute behind the scenes featurette made up of on set candid interviews with most of the cast, an 8 minute interview with first time director Duncan Ward (in which he mainly discusses casting the film) and finally a 5 minute chat with writer/producer Danny Moynihan in which he talks about the origin of his novel and it’s journey to the screen.
Final recommendation then: unless you’re a fan of the book or the Brit art scene…..nah you’re probably still better off giving this one a miss!