Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

"Its biggest problem is that his deadpan approach leaves it feeling tonally flat - right up until a poignant ending which far surpasses what has gone before."

When she first travels to Los Angeles, Nina (Catia Ojeda) is only planning to catch up with her sister, as she promised her dying mother she would do - she has no idea that she's missing. Yasmina (Cynthia Addai-Robinson), the flatmate she meets on arrival, is unconcerned about not having seen Carrie for three months until she realises that rent is due. Still reeling from her bereavement and the break-up of a long term relationship, Nina immediately assumes the worst, and her enquiries only exacerbate her concerns. She's unprepared for the laissez-faire attitude prevalent in Californian society, which writer/director Alex Goldberg exaggerates to an absurd degree. So although she has no investigative skills and no idea how to behave around potentially dangerous people, she sets out to try to find Carrie by herself.

It's difficult to know quite what this quirky comedy wants to be; difficult at times to distinguish satire from ignorance. Yoga enthusiasts, johns and New Age cultists make such easy targets that not much artistry is needed to mock them. Although the film never comes across as mean-spirited, its look-at-all-the-weird-people approach feels rather empty. It's more successful where it actually invests in its characters, such as Tom Choi's shy businessman, who, despite the circumstances in which they meet, seems like he could be a good match for Nina or at least a genuine ally. Neighbours Jack and Prudence (John Sloan and Milena Govich) are just too flimsily drawn to hold much interest and the comedy cop duo supposedly on the case (James Andrew Walsh and Michael McCartney) provide only a passing distraction.

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Goldberg has some fun playing with the cinematic mythology of a city in which young women gong missing is a staple plot hook, but this only gets the film so far. Its biggest problem is that his deadpan approach leaves it feeling tonally flat - right up until a poignant ending, which far surpasses what has gone before. there's certainly talent involved - one just wishes it were tapped into sooner. The blasé approach Goldberg takes to depicting the world of organised crime has a certain charm, and makes a point, but being permitted just a small opportunity to fear for our heroine, just a modicum of tension, would make the whole endeavour much more interesting.

As it is, the film meanders from one skit to another without giving viewers any reason to invest. Ojeda is a capable lead but can't carry the weight of the rest of it alone. It's vaguely watchable in a nothing-else-on-TV way and it does have its moments but overall it feels like a wasted opportunity.

Reviewed on: 05 Nov 2019
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Following her mother's funeral and a recently ended relationship, Nina flies to Los Angeles in search of her missing sister.

Director: Alex Goldberg

Writer: Alex Goldberg

Starring: Cynthia Addai-Robinson, Tom Choi, Joe Coots, Milena Govich

Year: 2019

Runtime: 90 minutes

Country: US


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