Posted July 23, 2009 in Film

Kevin Spacey softshoes into the titular role of a depressive therapist who readies himself for his sessions by smoking out—or, formally, self-medicating—with the finest weed in LA. The Crash of Hollywood psychoanalysis, Jonas Pate’s fashionably (and implausibly) interwoven ensemble drama depends more on coincidences than convincing acting. Still, Spacey delivers and it’s a delight to watch him finally cut loose of his post-Oscar pressures and reclaim acting as the casual art of sinking into another man’s skin. He’s a star in rebirth and teen Keke Palmer is one in ascent as a silent, sullen schoolgirl who sees Spacey’s pro-bono appointments with her as a curse. In a world of fashionable traumas, theirs are real; not so much for the kooks that round out Thomas Moffet’s script and coat it with such faded archetypes of local color such as the tantrum-throwing agent (Dallas Roberts), the wannabe screenwriter (Mark Webber), the actress on the wrong side of 30 (Saffron Burrows), the calculating newcomer (Laura Ramsey) and the sex-addicted (Robin Williams) and drug-addicted (Jack Huston) actors trying to throw away their success. (If Colin Farrell saw Huston’s well-endowed Irish screw-up, he’d call his lawyers.) There are some small moments of truth and a few of affecting sadness, but humanity gets hammered down by the oppressive kismet of the story structure. And Moffett and Pate are ultimately too cautious for a Valley of the Dolls insider expose. They can create and lambast these walking movie biz clichés, but everyone’s gotta get a happy-enough ending.


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