Don’t hate them because they’re beautiful — models have to suffer for their art. That’s more or less the message of “Fashionably L.A.,” an in-jokey, score-settling vanity production by model-actor-filmmaker Tamara Olson. At once slick and amateurish, this often painfully sincere comedy-drama isn’t likely to spend much time on the theatrical catwalk before it fast-forwards to homevid.
Olson is very much first among equals in the ensemble of attractive young women cast as not-so-successful L.A. models. Pic benefits from her insider’s knowledge of the humiliations endured by second-tier runway strutters who wear carpet swatches at industrial shows or wedding gowns at bridal fairs. Indeed, a few key set pieces — a lingerie display at a raucous “Men’s Night,” a shopping-mall show interrupted by noisy teens — have an undeniable ring of truth. More often, however, Olson wallows in soap-operatic melodrama involving deceitful boyfriends, cold-blooded agents and younger rivals. In several scenes — especially when Olson’s character is browbeaten by a pompous acting coach — “Fashionably L.A.” seems more interested in getting even than telling truths. Pic arbitrarily vacillates between color and B&W, suggesting lenser Steve Yedlin saw “If …” at an impressionable age.