A self-consciously postmodern triptych reconsidering the subject of its title, writer-director Brian Pera's "Woman's Picture" takes too long to reach dramatically satisfying observations about its three female characters, caught in classic melodramatic situations.

A self-consciously postmodern triptych reconsidering the subject of its title, writer-director Brian Pera’s “Woman’s Picture” takes too long to reach dramatically satisfying observations about its three female characters, caught in classic melodramatic situations. Pic sometimes feels as if it’s in suspended animation, with characters on conceptual marionette strings — which could be interesting in a brilliant filmmaker’s hands. Pera might reach that level in future work, but this project’s sheer unevenness will make it a hard sell with critics and auds alike.

The pic’s three parts are titled with the names of the heroines in focus, starting with “Ingrid,” about a woman (Calpernia Addams) who’s had a sex-change operation and is visiting her mom (Sally Stover) for the first time; possible dramatic fireworks, though, never really ignite. Fassbinder meets Sirk in second episode, “Loretta,” in which a meek motel maid (Amy Lavere) is mistaken for a call girl by a client, leading to role-playing with a slightly surreal edge. By far the best section, “Miriam” is a showcase for Ann Magnuson (at the top of her game) as a home-shopping-network host whose best days are behind her.

Woman's Picture

Production

An Evelyn Avenue production in association with the Wahpeton Film Collective. (International sales: The Film Collaborative, Los Angeles.) Produced by Les Edwards, Catherine Keenan, Brian Pera. Co-producers, Pam Parker Branham, Elva Pera Kelly. Directed, written by Brian Pera, from a story idea by Ann Magnuson, Pera.

Crew

Camera (color/B&W, HD), Ryan Parker; editor, Eileen Meyer; music, Paul Allen Taylor; music supervisor, Joe Mullherin; production designer, Bard Cole, Pera; costume designers, Alicia Boldreghini George, Meriwether Nichols, Pera, Peter Cohen. Reviewed on DVD, Los Angeles, July 14, 2011. (In Outfest.) Running time: 106 MIN.

With

Ann Magnuson, Calpernia Addams, Amy Lavere, Angela Dee, Gerald L'Ecuyer, Corey Parker, Brian Pera, Paul Provenza, Sally Stover.

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