Full Frontal


Released in 2002, certified UK-18. Reviewed on 25 May 2003 by Scott Morris
Full Frontal image

I have no urge to recap this in depth because I've never been so stultified by a movie in all my days. Initially it seems to be a film about a film, with Julia Roberts as a journalist interviewing Blair Underwood about his upcoming movie, going into a romance subplot. Intercut with this dragged out study in tedium are the worlds most horrible DV footage of their 'real' characters, with the strained marital relationship between the screenwriter of the movie Carl (David Hyde Pierce) and Lee (Catherine Keeler), Lee's sister Lucy and a play screenwriter, taking in a stop to massage famed director Gus (David Duchovny).

The main focus eventually settles on Carl and his relationships, which is probably a good thing as Pierce is marginally the least irritating character here. He's basically reprising his role from Frasier, with good reason to mope as in the space of a day he loses his job, accidentally drugs his dog and worries about his wife leaving him. The events of the day try and weave the characters into a finale of a party thrown in Gus' honour, but boy does it take a long time to get there. If you have an inclination to do a film about the day in a life of a bunch of no-marks, it should at least be an interesting day.

The only very minor positive thing is Nicky Katt's performance in a stage play as a beatnik Hitler, and even that's a travesty. But at least it's an interesting travesty when lined up against the gallery of ineptitude and dullness. Actually, there was one interesting character, Carl's neighbour Frank who dresses as Dracula. He has no lines and his total screentime is around eight seconds. It's a sad day when the only character to connect with the audience is purely because he's wearing a funny costume. We can say this in confidence because in our screening, theOneliner crew were the audience. With any luck this film will vanish as quickly as any respect we had for Soderbergh has.

Is the whole 'film within film' concept a metaphor for the relationship between Carl and Lee? Who cares? The characters are just plain boring. I have no compunction to care or think about them at all. Any depth explored in the film's structure is not reflected in the depth of feeling for the characters, so I simply can't be bothered to think about messing around with timelines or considering which microcosmic relationship in the film relates to Carl and so on. I just don't care enough to expend any effort thinking about it, they all bored me too much.

This isn't intelligently written. It tries desperately to be 'cool'. It has Brad Pitt wandering around. It has 'whacky' scenes with Lee interrogating subordinates while throwing a beach ball at them and asking them to recount African countries. It has a snatch of Terrence Stamp acting out a scene from The Limey during a camera pan in a masturbatory moment of hitherto unseen proportions; entirely pointless; adding nothing to anyone's enjoyment of anything and a mere reminder that if pushed Soderbergh can make an entertaining movie. This is merely tedium incarnate.

I hate this movie and you should too. This kind of rubbish should not be encouraged or tolerated. This is a great case for banning cinema outright. This is an awful film. It's not really a film, actually, more of an ego stroking nightmare. It makes you want to hunt down Soderbergh and stab him in his big ego-inflated head.

We didn't like this much.

Were I in the business of passing quantifiable judgements, I'd award this 0/5 TippyMarks.

Steven Soderbergh
Cast list:
David Duchovny (Bill/Gus)
Nicky Katt (Hitler)
Catherine Keener (Lee)
Mary McCormack (Linda)
David Hyde Pierce (Carl)
Julia Roberts (Catherine/Francesca)
Blair Underwood (Nicholas/Calvin)