Ellie Parker

Reviewed By Chris Parry
Posted 01/24/05 21:48:45

"Patchy, enigmatic, mostly empty. If not for Naomi Watts, who'd care?"
2 stars (Pretty Bad)

SCREENED AT THE 2005 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL: A digi-video film that took four years to complete, shot on weekends and whenever Naomi Watts wasn't off working for money, Ellie Parker is definitely an achievement for writer/director/actor Scott Coffey. But let's not confuse an achievement of scheduling with an achievement of cinematic genius, because Ellie Parker is mostly crap.

Occasionally hilarious, occasionally poignant, but almost always long and rambling, this is a film that really doesn't fit into the 'needed to be made' category. It feels surprisingly long, considering the running time comes in at a respectable 95 minutes, while the plot comes in surprisingly short. In a nutshell, Ellie Parker (Watts) is an actress trying to take the step up from audition-filler to paid professional, and when she's not being frustrated by the problems that come with an LA love life, she's being pissed off (and pissed on) by enigmatic whiz kid directors who don't know what they're doing. And that's all three acts, right there.

Thrown in amongst this narrative are various scenes of... um... talking would be the best way to describe them, since they don't actually push the story along, though they invariably do leave you impressed at how Naomi Watts can talk for 95 minutes without fluffing a scene. In fact, that's really the only thing about Ellie Parker worth talking about in positive terms, because Watts is undeniably a great talent, whether she's working from scripted dialogue or just winging it with ad-libs.

But there's just nothing else. A couple of laughs, a couple of interesting set pieces, a lot of Watts adding to her highlight reel, but when you get right down to it, there's just nothing else. Continuity issues abound, and scenes that could easily have been cut without damaging story, characterization or flow, are instead left to roll until they're at an absolute standstill.

Ultimately, the reasoning that we had a little filmstockk and knew Naomi Watts' phone number just isn't enough to justify actually making a movie. Write the screenplay, make it work on paper, and then shoot the damn thing with a budget, don't just shoot when the weather's good and the crew has a few days off their real job and Naomi has nothing better to do.

Then again, what do I know? This guy got into Sundance, after all. Maybe what matters most in the film world is not whether your story needs to be told, but rather whether your lead is on magazine covers. If that's the case, can someone give me the phone number of Kirstie Alley's agent?

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