From Hollywood To Rose


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

From Hollywood To Rose
"The quietness of the film, the dryness of much of its humour, brings something different to situations that would normally be played in full-on wacky style."

Margaret Thatcher is frequently credited with having claimed that anybody who rides on a bus after the age of 26 is a failure. Liz Graham and Matt Jacobs' film is full of people making excuses for being on buses. They don't normally travel this way, they insist. They can't deny using buses because those are the places where they meet and get talking as one bedraggled middle aged woman (Eve Annenberg) makes her way through Los Angeles at night with make-up smeared all over her face, wearing an increasingly tattered wedding gown.

Mysterious as the Bride in Quentin Tarantino's epic Kill Bill, but a lot less glamorous, this tired and confused woman might be invisible to her fellow passengers if it were not for her dress. Everybody wants to know her story but, with the exception of one determined child, nobody wants to ask. Instead they talk around the subject or simply talk about themselves. They talk about their failed relationships, their thwarted ambitions, the mothers who don't understand them and the lizard people sending telepathic messages from the centre of the Earth. Jewish, Chinese, trans and geek stereotypes abound but are acknowledged as such - sometimes, rather glumly, by those who embody them - and there's a sweetness about the rendering of all the characters that goes a long way. The film sends the message that what matters is not whom one jokes about but the nature of the jokes.

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Nobody seems a more obvious target for cruel jokes than the poor bedraggled Bride, and her obvious vulnerability gives her the power of immunity through excess, bringing out the best in people (to the point where they sometimes confess the worst). Along the way she proves to have a depth and complexity nobody really expects, giving us glimpses of a much bigger story and forming unexpected friendships. There's also a showdown with a woman who recognises her that's straight out of Jerry Springer territory but is given comedic weight by its context, with nonplussed onlookers unsure of the proper way to react.

Although the film is notably free of characters who insist they're really actors, there's a lot of satire here that's very much focused on LA, and people who know the city will get more out of it. That said, the simple story and well-drawn characters have universal appeal, and the quietness of the film, the dryness of much of its humour, brings something different to situations that would normally be played in full-on wacky style. There's an edge to Annenberg's performance that suggests depths of despair just out of sight, and it's this that lets the film get away with its positivity without becoming too sugary.

A warm-hearted and thoughtful little film, From Hollywood To Rose travels along a familiar route but lets you appreciate what there is to observe along the way.

Reviewed on: 06 Jun 2017
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From Hollywood To Rose packshot
A bedraggled woman in a wedding dress faces a tumultuous train ride.

Director: Liz Graham, Matt Jacobs

Writer: Matt Jacobs

Starring: Eve Annenberg, Linda Bisesti, Ray Brahmi

Year: 2016

Runtime: 84 minutes

Country: US


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