Comedy, Drama

Full Frontal (2002)

Comments Off on Full Frontal (2002) 18 August 2013

full frontal

Studio: Echo Bridge Entertainment / Miramax

Theatrical Release: August 2, 2002

Blu Ray Release: May 7, 2013

Director: Steven Soderbergh

R

Review by James Klein

Director Steven Soderbergh is no stranger to experimental films or making films out of the norm. While some have worked (The Limey, Traffic) others have failed (Bubble, Che). He has even made some block-buster Hollywood films such as the Ocean’s Trilogy and Erin Brockovich. Soderbergh has never typed casted himself as a certain kind of director. His films range from various genres: comedy, drama, action, and thrillers. But Soderbergh is also one of the biggest hit and miss directors out there and his experimental 2002 comedy-drama Full Frontal could be considered his biggest flop.

It’s hard to explain Full Frontal’s plot. The film is a  “movie within a movie” as Julia Roberts and Blair Underwood plays a reporter interviewing an actor while he is making a film with Brad Pitt. As the two seem to fall for one another, we soon find out that it is just a movie and they are playing themselves (although they don’t use their real names). But while this is taking place, there are various stories happening all around them as we see David Hyde Pierce and Catherine Keener playing a couple who have fallen out of love as Keener is seeing Underwood on the side while her younger sister (Mary McKormack) is the voice of reason but oblivious of her sister’s deteriorating marriage. There is another side story about a lonely director whose working on a small play about Hitler and his relationship with the main actor that plays Hitler (Nicky Katt, who is one of the few bright spots in the film) who is just a self-centered jerk. All of these characters end up meeting together for a mutual friend’s birthday (David Duchovny) who ends up accidentally killing himself by auto-erotic asphyxiation.

Full Frontal feels like a film written by Woody Allen if Steven Soderbergh had directed it. The multiple story lines all revolving around different characters relationships in the city of Los Angeles has that Woody Allen vibe. The problem is that none of the characters are remotely interesting. Not that the acting is bad, but the characters don’t do anything interesting; they are just so dull to watch. I understand (I think) the point of what Soderbergh was going for, that life can at times seem like a movie and that movie relationships and real life relationships are nothing like one another. Or was he asking the audience the question, “Why do we believe something is real just because of the way it was shot?” When the film is centered on the “movie”, its shot in 35 mm. When the story involves the other characters, its shot with a hand held digital camera, giving the viewer the impression of a documentary. I think that was what the film maker was saying…I’m not sure. While I like the concept, it doesn’t make up for the fact that this overlong movie is just downright boring with a vague point. I like movies that ask the audience to think or ask questions to themselves but can it at least be enjoyable to watch and experience?

Echo Bridge Entertainment’s blu ray looks just fine but honestly it’s hard to tell due to the fact that over half the movie was shot on grainy looking video. For fans of the movie, there is plenty to like about the blu ray as the special features are extensive. There is a completely different edit of the film, deleted scenes, an interview with Soderbergh and even cast interviews of the actors in character.

While the film didn’t fare well with critics, audiences did make a tiny profit for Full Frontal. My guess is because of the all-star cast. Or maybe because Soderbergh was coming off of Ocean’s 11 at the time. Either way, its amazing this film was even shown at  theaters. For hard core Soderbergh fans only. Everyone else stay far, far away from this dreck.

Rating: ★½☆☆☆

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