Is 'From Hollywood to Rose' a Parody of Indie Film?
Nerd fervour in this debut comedy distracts from an interesting premise.
From Hollywood to Rose
Liz Graham, Matt Jacobs
28 Feb 2018 (US)
Late one night, a dazed, nameless bride walks to a Los Angeles bus stop, gets on and sits by herself. Her strange appearance (mascara streaming down her tear-stained face framed by thick cat-eye glasses, the costume-wedding dress, the large and conspicuous shopping bag she carries) attracts the attention of her fellow passengers, leading to a night of encounters in From Hollywood to Rose.
The directorial debut of Liz Graham and Matt Jacobs, the film opens with promise. The mystery of the central figure (Eve Annenberg) draws the viewer in, just as it draws in the people on the buses she rides: it makes total sense that anyone would walk up to the bride, curious about her story while opening up about their own as they project themselves onto her idiosyncrasies.
Annenberg's performance is most definitely the highlight of the film. She plays her bride with compassion, instilling her downtrodden and disheveled character with a sense of admiration. Her calm, even voice is soothing to hear, and though she speaks infrequently, she cuts through the chaos of the film with her dialogue.
An enigmatic character dealt with through unending sympathy, the bride is the highpoint of a film which otherwise almost instantly devolves to focus on irritating characters and out-of-date indie aesthetics. When a man on the bus plays a moody folk-rock song, the narrative breaking from its drama for a musical sequence, one can't help but feel like this belongs in a film from eight years prior. This "hipster" quality is one which hasn't been popular for some time, and even then it was an aesthetic which was pure trend and no substance. The decision to stick with it results in a film that feels as if it is almost a parody of the American indie.
But while the aesthetic is approached with a certain warmth and earnestness, much of the rest of the film is simply grating. Humour is usually loud (and also out of date, such as references to Jersey Shore, for instance). Central to the film beyond the bride are two adult nerds she encounters. Arrogant and aggressive, they enter From Hollywood to Rose arguing about various topics such as comic book film adaptations, the value of Blade Runner, and how great Christopher Nolan is. Judgmental, obnoxious, mean, and self-important, far too much time is spend on their discussions of their own nerd cred (where they view their admiration of popular media as an obscure interest).
Amidst one of their loud arguments, the bride calms them when she chimes in with her admiration of Blade Runner. The two are impressed (as if it's hard to find others who appreciate the sci-fi classic), and end up spending a good deal of the night with her, buying her food, paying her bus fare, and defending her from aggressors. But they never lose their irritation. They never tone down their nerd-fervour: in switching focus to them -- how they perceive the bride and learn more about her -- the viewer is stuck with these two figures who represent nothing but the most frightfully brash parts of nerd culture.
Taking up the largest portion of the film, they are the least interesting part. One craves a deeper return to the bride, a look at her perspective rather than theirs, and a pause to explore her story on her own terms. As From Hollywood to Rose progresses, we eventually get this, but the process is arduous. The characters the bride encounters have a range. Some are likeable, some are obnoxious -- but for the most part, the encounters are brief and at least engaging in their strangeness, as interludes to the bride's extended bus trip. But the nerds are not, and they take up much of the attention. Though From Hollywood to Rose has promise, this seems to be largely found in Annenberg's performance within an otherwise clunky, unenjoyable film.