Saturday, April 24, 2010

My Own Love Song

The premiere of My Own Love Song was held at the Borough of Manhattan Community College Performing Arts Center. The curb was lined with limousines and police vehicles and a red carpet was at the entrance; so were the photographers, hundreds of them elbowing each other out of the way to get the perfect shot, all shouting out instructions to the stars who posed and smiled. "Forrest, this way! Renee, more to left! Renee, here, here!"

The flashes from all their cameras could have lit up a small city. The pros formed an impenetrable wall, and I couldn't see past them to get a glimpse of the Renee Zellweger or Forest Whitaker. No matter, it was interesting just to stand on the perimeter and watch the spectacle they created.

About half an hour before the film was scheduled to start, I entered the more than 900-seat theater. The space, which has a dramatic illuminated ceiling, raked stadium seating, and mezzanine and balcony, was soon packed. A representative of the Tribeca Film Festival came onstage, introduced the film, and brought the director and stars onstage to take their bows. Then the lights went down and the film began.

Director Olivier Dahan must have had something great in mind when he set out to make My Own Love Song - otherwise, how could he have attracted such top-level talent? The cast includes not only Zellweger and Whittaker, it also has Nick Nolte and a score written by Bob Dylan. But ... was it good?

No, sadly, this film was dreadful. Reviewer Eric Kohn of Indiewire captured my own feelings:

It’s no easy task to figure out at what point “My Own Love Song” transitions from a string of basic mediocrities to hilariously awful contrivances. My own theory is that this happens somewhere between the incoherent split-screen car chase and the animated birds. Others may write it off even earlier than that, pointing out an earlier scene in which Renee Zellweger’s wheelchair-bound character Jane unleashes her warbling and utterly sincere rendition of “This Land” to a room filled with illogically impressed strangers. Finding the most excruciating moments proves challenging, but not as much as simply making it through this unbelievably ill-conceived mess.

An Off-Key Trainwreck: Olivier Dahan’s “My Own Love Song”


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