A perplexing slice-of-life that should serve as a calling card for its talented if wildly intemperate director, Alex Munt.

An ultra-low-budget film about rich kids, as well as a spry, swiftly moving study of crushing ennui, “LBF” is a perplexing slice-of-life that should serve as a calling card for its talented if wildly intemperate director, Alex Munt. Despite boasting characters with such self-explanatory names as Cash, the Dead Girl and the Beautiful Financial Backer, the film is frustratingly aloof about exactly who these characters are and why anyone should care about them, but as a pure stylistic exercise, it has a lot to show for itself. Commercial prospects are niche at best.

Described by Munt as a “pop art film,” “LBF” bears scant resemblance to Warhol’s “Chelsea Girls,” though it does favor spectacle and auteurist flourishes (some striking, some indulgent) over comprehensible narrative. The story, such as it is, concerns fashionably dissolute Paris-based young writer Goodchild (Toby Schmitz) as he arrives back home to Australia to attend the funeral for his deceased ex-girlfriend, the aforementioned Dead Girl (Gracie Otto). He quickly strikes up a relationship with the Beautiful Financial Backer (Bianca Chiminello, appropriately cast), who commissions him to write a book titled “The Love Enterprise,” which is either a study of the co-option of love by corporate branding, or a Beat-poetry compendium of love-related aphorisms culled from drunken interviews with strangers at parties.

As a borderline nihilist who twice name-drops Jay McInerney in the course of a 65-minute film, Goodchild is wholly unequipped to pen a book on either theme, and in between failed writing binges and interview sessions he does some drugs, pines for the Dead Girl in fancy digs and goes to an awful lot of indie-rock shows. (Pic showcases a number of up-and-coming bands in full live performances, and most of them are quite good, though it’s often unclear what they’re doing in this film.)

Emotionally, none of this adds up to much of anything, and Munt seems a skilled stylist who might nonetheless benefit from a tad more adult supervision on his next outing. But he has a delightfully askew touch with a scene, a way with actors, and an ability to submerge the audience in a world of beautifully loathsome degenerates without implicating them in it. All these traits should serve him well going forward.

Wry voiceover narration, presumably taken from Cry Bloxcome’s source novel, “Living Between Fucks,” is often quite funny. Tech contributions come courtesy of an extremely small crew, all of whom are higher on enthusiasm than polish.

LBF

Australia

Production

A Muntmedia presentation. Produced, directed, written by Alex Munt, from the novel by Cry Bloxcome.

Crew

Camera (color, DV), Gareth Tillson; editor, Andrew Soo; sound, Kathleen Burrows; associate producers, Marckus Eckermann, Soo. Reviewed at SXSW Film Festival (competing), March 17, 2011. Running time: 65 MIN.

With

Toby Schmitz, Bianca Chiminello, Gracie Otto, April Rose Pengilly, Iren Skaarnes.
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