As a cautionary drama on the price of fame, "Undiscovered" could not tread on more exhaustively discovered territory, and the result is a reel-by-reel trail of cliches. Pretty young things are rendered skin-deep and unable to love each other, even though everyone knows they're the perfect match. What may have been originally conceived as a significant project has ended up pallid and will quickly exit from theatrical gigs.
As a cautionary drama on the price of fame, “Undiscovered” could not tread on more exhaustively discovered territory, and the result is a reel-by-reel trail of cliches. Pretty young things — he a solemnly serious songwriter thrust into rock stardom, and she a Gotham model-turned-wannabe thesp — are rendered skin-deep and unable to love each other, even though everyone knows they’re the perfect match. What may have been originally conceived as a significant project has ended up pallid and will quickly exit from theatrical gigs.
In an opening moment recalling “Closing Doors,” model Brier (Pell James) draws songwriter Luke’s (Steven Strait) attention at the door of a New York subway train, and he tosses her his winter gloves.
Soon, Luke bids farewell to his goofy musician brother Euan (Kip Pardue), and sets off to Los Angeles, where he hopes his career can be kick-started.
Meanwhile, Brier, suffering the serial infidelities of rocker b.f. Mick (Stephen Moyer), suggests a move to the City of Angeles to test her acting bug to her manager Carrie (Carrie Fisher).
All too easily, Brier lands a spot in an acting class at the Lee Strasberg Institute in L.A., scores a long-term residency at the Chateau Marmont and spots Luke gigging at the Mint. Luke even knows Brier’s fellow student and new pal Clea (Ashlee Simpson). Los Angeles, as depicted in “Undiscovered,” is a tiny neighborhood composed of nothing but clubs, struggling yet beautiful young people and fat-headed showbiz grownups who talk like used-car salesmen.
Latter would be record producer Garrett Schweck (Fisher Stevens), so obviously insincere and obnoxious that no real artist like Luke, described as a “combination of Jeff Buckley and Elvis Costello,” would ever get within spitting distance of him.
John Galt’s script is soon desperate for an angle, however, so Brier hatches a scheme to “stage” buzz for Luke. The scheme includes hiring a slinky woman (Shannyn Sossamon) to pose as a date for Luke, while Brier half-heartedly insists Luke isn’t for her.
Brier’s feelings have something to do with no longer trusting musicians, but nobody believes it, and neither will viewers, who will see the creaky drama’s roller-coaster patterns of fame and betrayal and self-renewal long before they happen.
Musicvid director Meiert Avis works best arranging solid musical performances (especially for Strait), but appears lost as a helmer of narrative cinema.
All the weight is on Strait and James, who both look fine and seem to feel comfortable as leads, but who can’t find the emotional range needed to humanize their stereotyped roles. James’ character is especially weak, since once Brier is introduced and set up, she has little to do in a story that’s all about Strait’s Luke.
Stevens, Fisher and Peter Weller — in a curious role in which he must misquote Hemingway and make it sound believable — play their various, long-maintained personae by rote, making this sketch of Hollywood seem even more fake.
Postcard glimpses of Los Angeles, as seen through Danny Hiele’s jittery rack-focus lensing, lend the impression the filmmakers lack understanding of a town depicted here as a glittery hell-hole. Strait and Simpson, who holds her own as an actor, share some warm moments in front of the mic, though why David Baerwald’s score dips into Nino Rota-like riffs is anyone’s guess.