Women in any profession will be measured in some way by superficial superiors. Their looks can be just as important as any talent they may possess in a world dominated by a society obsessed with beauty. Sometimes though, their talent may be their beauty. Actresses and models the world over with only a modicum of ability beyond bending over fear the day the features begin to sag and the babies they once found cute are now taking their jobs. Marmalade tells the story of one such model facing the downslope of her career and if its any indication of her prospects, telling her to not to quit the day job is a cruel joke on multiple levels.Former model Jill Sorensen (who co-wrote the screenplay with co-star, Jennifer Kuzna) portrays aging model, Kim. By ďagingĒ, weíre only talking 32. New and young is the name of the game though and all the makeup in the world isnít going to satisfy even the hint of facial lines for hipper-than-thou photographers. They donít want her. Her agent placates her lack of employment. She has a boyfriend (Michael T. Weiss) who doesnít seem heíd be satisfied if she were 22. Hope she enjoyed it while it lasted.
Kimís best friend (Kuzna) in her spare time from part-time modeling, I guess, is making a documentary on what happens to their kind when time spits them out the other end of the industry. Footage with real models is interjected as they are queried about the business and feelings on their current lot in life. The one question that is never asked is why exactly the makers of Marmalade didnít just make THAT movie because itís a helluva lot more interesting?
Honestly, what would you rather see? A probing document that gets to the dirt behind the beauty or a lame comedy about an ex-model being set up on blind dates by her model friends? Because the latter is what youíre getting. Sorensen has either been smiling non-stop throughout her career or pouting her lips enough that she feels she must Joker-ize her facial expression at nearly every given moment. When sheís happy, goofy or drunk, you can feel Sorensen trying to act and itís not pretty.
Admittedly the filmís saving grace comes in the most illogical of circumstances; the series of men her galpals believe she matches up with in some universe. These hip models who could probably still get any man they want wouldnít even know these fellas let alone play matchmaker with unless some televised dare got them a payday. But the actors make the most of their cameos.
Sam Robards looks like he just stepped out of a 70s porno as the sex addict taking a vow of abstinence to score chicks. Josh Pais does his best Ben Stiller as a radical rabbi who preaches the word of the Jewish dating scene. Even funnier is the great Michael Panes saddled with the unfortunate surname of Jerpes. Panes, a dead-ringer for Peter Sellers, was also terrific in Greg Pritikinís 2004 SXSW entry (Surviving Eden) and Illeana Douglasí brilliant Sundance short (Devil Talk) and weíll be seeing a lot more from him in the future. Wish we could say the opposite for Eric Schaeffer (as Kuznaís commitment-centric boyfriend) who has funny material, but oversells the wackiness of every line and canít contain the comedic energy established for him.Marmalade had many directions to turn, but plays it safe by walking out down the runway, turning and walking right back. The tease of the documentary is drowned out in episodic comedy and sitcom-ish situations. The superficiality of what society deems the archetypal beauty could have been extended equally to womenís attitudes towards the perfect man. But why bother when we can mock the losers and Kim can fortuitously end up with one of the former Melrose Place hunks? Cry me a river. It wonít affect the Botox.