I’m a collector of performances. Believe it or not, I’m not big into film memorabilia, toys, posters, soundtracks or other remembrances of movies I love (it’s more an issue of it being an expensive habit, in case you’re wondering). But I do try to see every performance by actors that I truly adore, no matter how small the part or the quality of the film.
So imagine my excitement when I saw the cast list to the new indie dramedy Izzy Gets the Fuck Across Town, which features long-time personal favorites like Mackenzie Davis, Alia Shawkat, Carrie Coon and Lakeith Stanfield (among others) in the story of a wreck of a woman named Izzy (Davis), who is attempting to make it across Los Angeles to disrupt the engagement party of her ex-boyfriend to her former best friend.
With no money, no car, and no friends willing or able to give her a lift, Izzy must improvise, which partly involves taking a tour of her life, in a shambles since the breakup. She wakes up in the bed of a stranger (Stanfield) when she gets a call about the party, which is happening in just a few hours. Mostly she walks from house to house, attempting to scrounge money from friends and acquaintances with little success.
At each new stop, we learn a little more about the bad choices that led her to this point, and are forced to listen to endless conversations about personal philosophies on fate, luck, and whatever else first-time writer-director Christian Papierniak (who has primarily directed shorts and video games before this) thought was interesting when he heard it at a drunken party. Rather than take responsibility for the failures in her life, Izzy attributes them to destiny and points to signs that she and her ex (Alex Russell) were meant to be together.
Most of her encounters are silly or annoying diversions on her journey, with the likes of Haley Joel Osment, Brandon T. Jackson, and a beautifully tragic Annie Potts lending her various bikes and razor scooters to get where she’s going a little faster. The most interesting segment of Izzy Gets the Fuck Across Town involves her stopping by the house of her estranged sister (Coon) and her husband (Rob Huebel), and the two reunite as an acoustic duo that had some small amount of success a few years earlier. They sit side by side and sing while looking angrily at each other, and the result is so powerful and moving that it’s almost worth the price of however you might see this film…almost. Wisely, director Papierniak lets the entire song play out, and the moment only becomes more gripping until it almost feels like something is going to combust from the pressure.
Izzy was never meant as anything more that a slight film—a personal journey through a few hours of desperation that we know isn’t going to end the way she thinks it is. That’s why the way things actually play out is kind of interesting, even if it slightly betrays a lot of the lessons she’s learned during the hours we’ve spent with her. There’s no getting around the fact that this is not a particularly good movie, but as someone who finds value in watching a great actor give a worthy performance, even if the material is shallow, I still found reasons to pay attention and occasionally engage fully with what was happening on screen. Davis, Coon, Stanfield, and Shawkat are just always going to be watchable in anything. This film is proof of that.
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