"Shooting Livien" proves more adept at self-destruction than its unappealing protagonist does. Glumly pretentious pic from writer-director Rebecca Cook is unconvincing and uninvolving psychodrama about a moody-gloomy rock musician who's poised to implode even as he nears breakout success. Commercial prospects are nil.

Despite game performances and a fair amount of technical polish, “Shooting Livien” proves more adept at self-destruction than its unappealing protagonist does. Glumly pretentious pic from writer-director Rebecca Cook is unconvincing and uninvolving psychodrama about a moody-gloomy rock musician who’s poised to implode even as he nears breakout success. Commercial prospects are nil.

John Livien (Jason Behr) is a manic New York rocker who doesn’t wait for arrival of superstardom to begin alienating intimates with petulant outbursts and substance abuse. His bandmates, manager (Ally Sheedy) and long-suffering sweetheart (Sarah Wynter) are hard-pressed to endure his bad behavior. But aud is expected to sympathize, because hokey flashbacks indicate Livien was traumatized years earlier by the suicide of his deeply troubled mother.

Before her death, Livien’s mom (Polly Draper) instilled in her little boy a reverence for all things John Lennon — the man, the music, the myth. The dutiful son learned his lesson well: He sporadically affects a British accent, and often wears Lennon-style round-lensed glasses, prompting a true Brit bandmate to call Livien “a wanker” and making one expect somebody to ask, “Who the hell do you think you are? John Lennon?”

(Bizarrely, no one in “Shooting Livien” ever refers to the late ex-Beatle by name. The Lennon connection is implied entirely through indirect allusions — no photos, no music, no Fab Four jokes — that may go over heads of many viewers.)

Pic climaxes with poor, put-upon Livien shooting himself near the very spot where Lennon was slain by Mark David Chapman. But his aim isn’t true. As Livien lies unconscious in his hospital bed, his long-suffering sweetie rushes to his side to sob, “In the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.” No kidding.

Shooting Livien

Production

A Velveteen Films production in association with Intrinsic Value Films. Produced by Rebecca Cook, Aimee Schoof, Isen Robbins. Executive producers, Ben Cammarata, Nick Edney, Jamie Selway, Peter Sterling, Neil DeSena. Co-producer, Seth Carmichael. Directed, written by Rebecca Cook.

Crew

Camera (color, HD), Harlan Bosmajian; editor, Paul Zucker; music, Fionn O'Lochlainn; production designer, Ernesto Gonzales-Solo; costume designer, Jennifer Moore; sound, Jose Torres. Reviewed at South by Southwest Film Festival (competing), March 14, 2005. Running time: 96 MIN.

With

Jason Behr, Sarah Wynter, Dominic Monaghan, Joshua Leonard, Ally Sheedy, Polly Draper, Jay O. Sanders.
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