Anywhere USA

Tyro writer-director Chusy Haney-Jardine's pretentious "Anywhere USA" is dressed up in postmodern smarty pants, only to resolve as an excessively overlong personal project that chases its own tail.

Subtitled “an autobiography in three parts,” tyro writer-director Chusy Haney-Jardine’s pretentious “Anywhere USA” is dressed up in postmodern smarty pants, only to resolve as an excessively overlong personal project that chases its own tail. A triptych on, respectively, a trailer-park couple, a bright child and her slacker relative, and a wealthy Anglo man runs on and on, even as each elaborately written and staged part amounts to little. Euro fests may book this Sundance special jury prize-winner as a supposedly clever piece of new Americana, but auds everywhere will ignore it.

Sections are presented in storybook fashion, with each part profoundly titled (“Penance,” “Loss,” “Ignorance”) and narrated in third-person (by single-monickered, stentorian narrator Virato). “Penance” tiresomely plays as a bit of trailer-trash farce, with hubby Gene (Mike Ellis) suddenly on the outs with wife Tammy (Mary Griffin). Gene’s aggressive dwarf pal Little Ricky (Brian Fox) makes Gene believe Tammy is having an affair with an Al-Qaeda member. Mayhem ensues.

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“Loss” is at least briefer as a ridiculous tale of how children — in this case, Pearl (Perla Haney-Jardine, the helmer’s daughter) — endure the death of their parents. Pearl’s uncle Jeremiah (Jeremiah Brennan) does enough stupid things here to warrant an arrest for child endangerment.

Wildly misfiring as a supposedly clever spin on white guilt, “Ignorance” concerns affluent Ralph (Ralph Brierley) as he strives to break bread with blacks. Narrative cop-out at the end is then glossed over in the pic’s last bid for po-mo irony, but it doesn’t wash.

Asheville, N.C.-shot film is partly designed as a valentine to the Smoky Mountains burg, and yet (per title), the place is never named. Design, lighting and graphic elements drip with hip. Running time of 124 minutes screams for trimming.

Anywhere USA

  • Production: A Found Films presentation in association with Studio-on-Hudson. (International sales: Submarine Entertainment, New York.) Produced by Jennifer MacDonald. Executive producers, Joe Morley, Heather Winters. Co-producer, Andy O'Neil. Directed, written by Chusy Haney-Jardine.
  • Crew: Camera (color, DV), Patrick Rousseau; editor, Haney-Jardine; music, Arizona, Juan Benavides, Holiday Childress, Haney-Jardine, Bryan Rhuede, Chris Rosser, Jason Smith; music supervisor, Haney-Jardine; production designer, Bob Zimmerman; art director, Laura Reese; costume designers, Lila Zimmerman, Perla Haney-Jardine; sound (Dolby Digital), Brandon Goodwin; associate producers, Joshua Tager, Dave Bragg; assistant director, Scott Reese; casting, Jennifer MacDonald. Reviewed at Sundance Film Festival (competing), Jan. 21, 2008. Running time: 124 MIN.
  • With: <b>With:</b> Mary Griffin, Mike Ellis, Molly Surrett, Sheliah Ray Hipps, Rafat Abu-Goush, Brian Fox, Perla Haney-Jardine, Jeremiah Brennan, Ralph Brierley, Dianne Chapman, Ellis Robinson, Susie Greene, Frank Avery, Gene Hampton. Narrator: Virato.
  • Music By: