×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Film Review: ‘Los Angeles Overnight’

In Michael Chrisoulakis' flimsy Lynchian neo-noir, an aspiring actress tries to bankroll her dreams by snatching loot from the underworld.

Director:
Michael Chrisoulakis
With:
Arielle Brachfield, Azim Rizk, Lin Shaye, Camilla Jackson, Julian Bane, Ashley Park, Peter Bogdanovich, Sally Kirkland.
Release Date:
Mar 9, 2018

1 hour 33 minutes

Set in a seedy Hollywood where the dreams of an would-be actress collide with the violent schemes of the underworld, Michael Chrisoulakis’ “Los Angeles Overnight” offers a variation on “Mulholland Drive,” minus the sexuality, the structural gamesmanship, and most of the style and wit. Turns out there’s only one director who can pull off “Lynchian,” and that’s David Lynch, whose intuitive feel for good and evil, and the terrors that lurk from within and without, is nothing if not singular.

Chrisoulakis and screenwriter Guy J. Jackson attempt a violent, moody neo-noir about Tinseltown fringe-dwellers, but their conceit is flimsy and under-realized, grafting a boilerplate heist story onto a bitter commentary about the corrupting forces of the film industry. Released under Arena Cinelounge’s boutique banner, the pic faces a steep climb through the Hollywood Hills.

Calling in a few favors from recognizable faces, including Lin Shaye and Sally Kirkland, the film opens with the sonorous tones of Peter Bogdanovich, whose appearance as a hypnotherapist neatly establishes a tone of dark portents and larger destinies. For Priscilla (Arielle Brachfeld), these appointments are ostensibly about shedding an addiction to cigarettes, but Bogdanovich’s words (“You are cut from immaculate cloth,” “You immerse yourself in divine mission”) carry a deeper significance, instilling her with a confidence that five years of rejection has withered away. Her job as a waitress at Marilyn’s, a little-trafficked Marilyn Monroe-themed diner, was never enough to make rent, and her father, tired of plugging money into her bank account, is beckoning her to abandon her ambitions and come back home.

Meanwhile, a trio of small-time crooks, with Shaye in garish makeup and leopard print as their leader, have absconded with untold thousands in cash from Wooks (Julian Bane), a big-time crook, and tucked it away in a secret location until the dust settles. While serving Shaye’s gang at Marilyn’s, Priscilla overhears a riddle that she correctly suspects will lead her to this ill-gotten loot, though she has no idea about the dangerous source of it. When she lures Benny (Azim Rzik), a smitten young mechanic, into helping her find the money, both of them land into trouble with all sorts of sordid, murderous characters and find themselves in the middle of a bloody conflict between rival crews. In an ironic turn, Priscilla’s newfound criminality may prove to be unnecessary, as she starts getting callback after callback for a role that would finally kick-start her career.

Chrisoulakis and Jackson handle the noir trappings of the story well enough, with Michael Lira’s minimalist synth score doing more than its share of the heavy lifting. Their one clever idea is to suggest that Priscilla’s rise in Hollywood — and, by extension, the rise of anyone in Hollywood — requires a willingness to cross over to the dark side, from dewy-eyed ingenue to full-on femme fatale. As with Naomi Watts’ character in “Mulholland Drive,” there are forces at work beyond her own talent, and to a large extent those forces are beyond her control. She does, however, take the initiative to reach for a fortune that isn’t hers, which changes her into someone assured enough to live up to the lofty affirmations of her therapist and perhaps win the big part that’s eluded her for so long.

But there’s something doggedly amateurish about “Los Angeles Overnight” that sullies its contribution to the L.A. noir tradition, like the film is a conspicuous dress-up version of the real thing. Low production values are part of it — though Stefan Colson’s photography, with its stylized interiors and bird’s-eye view of outer Hollywood, is not — but the premise of thieves robbing thieves hasn’t been given a fresh twist here.

When not simply going through the motions, Chrisoulakis stages a few lackadaisical setpieces, including a foot chase that’s so absurdly drawn out that it ends with one of the men simply passing out from exhaustion. What’s lost in the crime story is a sharper focus on Priscilla herself, whose transformation into a proper screen siren has a Faustian quality that Chrisoulakis and Jackson can’t quite capture. Making it in Hollywood not only requires a certain type of character, the film implies, but a certain character type.

Film Review: 'Los Angeles Overnight'

Reviewing online, March 27, 2018. Running time: 93 MIN. 

Production: An Arena Cinelounge release of a High Noon Films production. Producers: Michael Chrisoulakis, Camilla Jackson, Guy J. Jackson, Kimmie Yan, Kate Rees Davies. Executive producer: Christian Meoli.

Crew: Director: Michael Chrisoulakis. Screenplay: Guy J. Jackson. Camera (color, widescreen): Stefan Colson. Editors: Melanie Annan, Chrisoulakis. Music: Michael Lira.

With: Arielle Brachfield, Azim Rizk, Lin Shaye, Camilla Jackson, Julian Bane, Ashley Park, Peter Bogdanovich, Sally Kirkland.

More Film

  • 'Mektoub, My Love: Intermezzo' Review: Abdellatif

    Cannes Film Review: 'Mektoub, My Love: Intermezzo'

    A simple but somehow atypical shot opens Abdellatif Kechiche’s new film: a serene closeup of a young woman’s face, as seen through the camera lens of Amir, a budding photographer still finding his perspective. Her expression is ambiguously tranquil, her long hair lightly rustled by a humid breeze, all softly lit by a sinking afternoon [...]

  • Crown Vic

    Thomas Jane's Police Thriller 'Crown Vic' Sells to Screen Media (EXCLUSIVE)

    Screen Media has bought North American rights to writer-director Joel Souza’s police crime-thriller “Crown Vic,” starring Thomas Jane and Luke Kleintank. The distributor closed terms during the Cannes Film Festival amid a competitive bidding situation between seven other suitors. Screen Media plans to release the pic this fall. “Crown Vic” premiered in April at the [...]

  • Colleen Bell

    Colleen Bell Replaces Amy Lemisch as California Film Commission Director

    Veteran entertainment executive and ambassador Colleen Bell will replace Amy Lemisch as director of the California Film Commission. Bell, who was appointed by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday, has worked as a consultant since 2017. She was the U.S. ambassador to Hungary from 2014 to 2017. She held several positions at Bell-Phillip Television Productions, including [...]

  • Jon Feltheimer

    Lionsgate Posts Loss, Underperforms Wall Street Expectations

    Lionsgate has posted a quarterly loss and its revenues and operating income have come in under Wall Street projections, despite growth from its premium cable channel, Starz. The studio reported a net loss of $24 million, or 11 cents a share, with adjusted operating income of $103 million for its fourth fiscal quarter ended March [...]

  • Cannes: China's 'Summer of Changsha' Debuts

    Cannes: China's 'Summer of Changsha' Debuts Without Censorship Approval

    Chinese crime drama “Summer of Changsha” screened at the Cannes Film Festival in the Un Certain Regard section despite lacking the necessary approvals from China’s censors. It premiered without its director or creative team in attendance, who blamed “technical reasons” for their absence — marking the third time that Chinese censorship appears to have caused [...]

  • Jane Austin SAG AFTRA

    SAG-AFTRA Secretary-Treasurer Jane Austin Running for President

    Jane Austin, the National Secretary-Treasurer of SAG-AFTRA, has become the third candidate for the presidency of the performers union, joining incumbent Gabrielle Carteris and Matthew Modine. Austin is running as an independent for the top post at SAG-AFTRA, which has 160,000 members. Carteris will seek re-election as the head of the ticket for the Unite [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content