Hollywood Je T'aime Film Review - an Official Selection of the 2009 Los Angeles Film Festival

Esric Debets in "Hollywood Je T'aime"

                                                               I have to confess, until this year’s festival, I never noticed how many independent films begin with our hero getting dumped. Such in the Black and White  introduction of Parisian Jerome (Eric Debets) in the fish out of water comedy Hollywood Je T’aime. On the heels of being dumped by the love of his life Gilles (Jonathan Blanc), the only other thing Jerome can think, dream about is the beautiful model in the window of the travel agency. The ad has a shirtless beauty beaconing “le California, toujour l’ete” (California, where it’s always summer.)

So Jerome leaves, in search of that dream beau. He goes to California only to learn that it indeed gets cold, especially on the beach. After the initial bumps of being tossed out of his hotel after only one night, he finds a place to stay with a drag queen and a Trannie in Silver Lake, lands a job at a French Restaurant, and lands an agent who booked him on a commercial - compliments of the guy he met on the beach, Ross (Chad Allen).  All this, in the span of a single week. But all the while, Jerome continues to see and miss Gilles.

Eric Debets and Diarra Kilpatrick in "Hollywood Je T'aime"

Fate rewards the risks that Jerome takes, all of them. And yet it all feels empty without the love of his life: a guy who does not want him anymore, a guy who he can’t stop dreaming about. Jerome never encounters the cynical, real Hollywood that awaits most people who come here wanting to become a star. Yet, he gives it all up and goes back to his life, which I have to admit annoyed me. The adventure, no, the successes in his adventure were not enough to fulfill him. It is a stinging reminder that people seldom appreciate the rarity of good fortune when it is handed to them. I think the filmmakers are suggesting that he is “simply being French.” However, neither his choices nor his flippant attitude made him a very sympathetic character. If he does not make the emotional investment in the characters around him, why should I?

Chad Allen (l.) and Eric Debets (r.) in "Hollywood Je T'aime"

I’ll keep saying it: If Jerome is the same person at the end that he was at beginning, what’s the point? Why go on this journey with him? If I don’t learn anything, if he doesn’t learn anything, if he doesn’t change in some significant way, or overcome some significant adversity, why do we tune in? If the answer is simply for entertainment, that’s fine too. However, the jokes were either way inside or hopelessly clichéd. Eric Debets plays angst really well and Michael Airington portrays drag queen Norma’s empty-nest syndrome beautifully. However, those performances alone don’t save this film from being… just OK.

I am always happy to get behind an filmmaker’s labor of love, but first it has to be well acted across the board, original, or inspired in some way. For me, this film was none of the above.

Hollywood, Je T’aime is an official selection in the Narrative Competition of the 2009 Los Angeles Film Festival happening now all over the Westwood Village and beyond through June 28, 2009.


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