Seduced And Abandoned


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Alec Baldwin and James Toback in Seduced & Abandoned
"Deeply tedious and bereft of purpose."

How does one go about raising finance for a film these days? It's a question of great importance to many talented people who are just starting out, but they won't learn anything new from this film. It sees Alec Baldwin and director James Toback set off for Cannes in search of funds for an erotic spy thriller set in Iraq and drawing on Last Tango In Paris. But where Sacha Baron Cohen brings charm to such roles, Baldwin can only bring smarm. There is nothing shocking to expose here. There is only the bullshit that audiences already know about, along with a painful lack of self-awareness.

Take the film's approach to women. Ostensibly it's highlighting the problems faced by older actresses ("Let's kill Neve" is one memorable line, referring to the problem of including Ms Campbell in a film now she's 40) and the extent to which roles for women are just about providing sexual interest to emphasise heroes' virility, but there are barely any women in the film and all Jessica Chastain does is present herself as an empty vessel for a director to use. The high level of casual sexism throughout does more to reinforce than challenge problematic attitudes. Such is the focus on schmooze that we are also left wondering to what extent those attitudes are real or just part of a bonding ritual in a context so false that there's nothing to be learned from it at all.

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Rather than turning to female filmmakers for comment, Baldwin interviews the likes of Roman Polanski and Martin Scorsese. The latter, at least, has something to say, and his incisive wit makes him the highlight of the film, but his advice basically boils down to 'don't bother trying to do it within the system'.

So what do we learn? That rich private funders don't know much about art. That filmmakers' visions are endlessly compromised. That what investors want is a sure bet. Hands up if any of this is new to you. The film feels more like a compulsory workplace marketing lecture than the humorous exposé it's presented as. It's deeply tedious and bereft of purpose, a hollow attempt at criticism smothered by its own sycophancy, and the only important message it conveys is that one should always test a film on somebody outside one's personal circles before deciding it's fit to be inflicted on the world.

Reviewed on: 05 Nov 2013
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A documentary about filmmakers' attempts to raise money to make a film.
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Director: James Toback

Writer: James Toback

Starring: Martin Scorsese, Alec Baldwin, Roman Polanski

Year: 2013

Runtime: 98 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US

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