Wolfe Video // 2009 // 97 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Tom Becker // November 12th, 2009
Jerome needed a change.
The story of a naïf seeking fame and fortune in Hollywood is about as old as Hollywood itself. You'd think it would have been exhausted by now, but here and there, filmmakers continue to dip into this well of clichés.
In Hollywood, je t'aime, the naïf is a gay French guy named Jerome, whose unhappiness in Paris is illustrated by the having the City of Light filmed in drab black and white. Jerome has just broken up with Gilles, a facile fellow who, for reasons left unexplained, is Jerome's "great love." Jerome is having a hard time facing Christmas by himself, so on a whim, he packs a small suitcase, flies to the golden state, and lands in Tinsel Town. Once there, he meets a limited circle of lovable eccentrics: trannie prostitute Kaleesha (Diarra Kilpatrick), world-weary drag queen Norma Desire (Michael Airington), and energetic pot dealer Ross (Chad Allen, Save Me).
Through happenstance, Jerome ends up living -- rent free -- in a conveniently unoccupied room in Norma's house. As kind of an afterthought, Jerome tries his hand at acting. With no effort on his part, he meets an agent through Ross. For no apparent reason, he lands the lead role in a commercial. Can Jerome continue to slouch his way to the top, or will he actually be called on to make an effort or express an emotion?
Hollywood, je t'aime gives us little in the way of story or conflict. Jerome's problems are solved before he even realizes he has problems. His biggest issue is that he can't get the annoying Gilles out of his head. Bad metaphor that he is, Gilles keeps haunting Jerome, turning up in his dreams, on the sidewalk, and in the shower, sometimes looking like he just escaped from the set of Fellini Satyricon. Gilles' message is basically, "I know you love me. Ha! Ha!" Unfortunately for Jerome, the puckish Gilles doesn't return our hero's sappy cell phone messages. All this makes Jerome incapable of moving on and finding love with a stranger in a bathhouse or with the admirably animated Chad Allen. It also makes Jerome sad.
At least, I think it makes Jerome sad. It's fairly impossible to tell when Jerome is sad. Or happy. Or eager. Or horny. Or hungry. Or that he has a pulse. In the lead role, non-actor Eric Debets has the most unengaging screen presence this side of plankton. All the other characters fall in love with him, he charms strangers, he impresses casting directors enough to land a coveted commercial, but the guy has all the personality of last week's oatmeal. He's a blank slate. He stares at the camera. He stares at the other actors. He mutters his lines as mushily accented monotone recitations. The film actually generates suspense as we wait for him to do something -- anything -- to command our attention, even a little. The best they could come up with are a few uninspired nude scenes, as though free-swinging genitalia will compensate for the complete absence of charisma.
As the hardened, aging drag queen, Airington gets to spout out all manner of aphorisms about Hollywood, broken dreams, lost youth and loves -- pretty much everything you'd expect to hear from a slightly paunchy guy in a sparkly gown and Dolly Parton wig. Oh, and the character is in love with Jerome. Kilpatrick is pretty much wasted in the thankless role of trannie best friend who (join the crowd) openly pines for the affections of our empty husk of a hero.
About the only thing to recommend here is Chad Allen's quirky and magnetic performance as the upbeat (but really lonely, you know) stoner. Virtually the only actor here with anything resembling presence, the film takes on a new life -- well, a life -- whenever Allen is on screen. He's even able to overcome the revelation of the character's "big secret" (one you'll probably figure out moments after he's introduced), as well as a weirdly discordant and unnecessary bit of business in which he's a nasty to the drag queen. Yes, he too falls in love with our flaccid Frenchie, but he takes it in stride when his romantic advances are met with the Blank Stare.
Otherwise, we get the standard, nice-looking LA travelogue-ish shots (scored to jazzy Christmas music), acceptable low-budget production values, and since this is a film aimed at a gay male audience, a few randomly placed and moderately explicit guy-on-guy sex scenes that can be easily snipped down when this turns up on one of the gay cable networks.
Wolfe sent over a screener for review, so it's not fair to judge the tech too harshly, but from what I saw, it looks fine. The only extra on the disc I received is a trailer, and I don't know if there are plans for anything more substantial for the actual release.
A trifling film rendered charmless by an inert central character, Hollywood, je t'aime is recommended For Chad Allen completists only.
Guilty. Quelle Dommage!
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Wolfe Video
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 97 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Official Site