Living In Oblivion

Living In Oblivion

*****

Reviewed by: Caro Ness

Living In Oblivion won seven awards, including the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, and rightly so. This is a quirky, funny, insightful movie of immense charm about everything that can go wrong and right whilst making an independent movie.

The film is cunningly structured, switching from black and white to colour to show the real meat of the movie. Although it's not essential to the audience’s enjoyment of the film, the fact that DiCillo directed Brad Pitt in the 1991 New York low-budgeter Johnny Suede adds a level of wry appreciation to this film, as the central episode here involves the high-handed, egocentric behaviour of a young blond star on a shoestring shoot.

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The film begins at 4am, with the actors arriving on set to shoot - a particularly emotional scene between Nicole (Catherine Keener) and her mother Cora (Rica Martens). Everything goes wrong, the boom appears in shot, there is outside noise from the street and, finally, when the actors have a moment of brilliance, leaving the rest of the cast and crew on the edge of tears, the cameraman, Wolf (Dermot Mulroney) is throwing up in the loo because the milk that he has been pouring in his coffee has gone off.

Thereafter things go from bad to worse as the arrogant leading man, Chad Palomino (James LeGros), starts making dim-witted suggestions for how to improve the scene, culminating in demanding that the director fires the leading lady because she is useless and distracted as he bedded her the night before and said it was a one night stand but is now claiming she cannot get over him. Nicole overhears this exchange and sets out to expose him for the vain, over-bearing, talentless idiot that he is. In the process, she discovers what has been clear to the audience all along, that the director, Nick, is in love with her.

This a very funny film and a rare one. The fact it is about film making allows us insights into the technical problems that arise in how to shoot a film, so we see first hand what works and what doesn’t. One gets a real sense of the monotony, graft and inhospitable conditions and locations involved in getting a scene in the can rather than the glamour normally associated with film making. Many of the actors are people who put up the money. This is a beautifully acted a dark comedy, with teeth, but also charming. Don’t miss it.

Reviewed on: 09 Jan 2008
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Fictionalised account of a day in the life of low-budget filmmakers. Out to own on DVD from January 21.
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Director: Tom Di Cillo

Writer: Tom Di Cillo

Starring: Steve Buscemi, Catherine Keener, Dermot Mulroney, Danielle von Zemeck, James LeGros, Rice Martens

Year: 1995

Runtime: 94 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US

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