Saturday, January 21, 2012

Sex and the City, Sundance style.

So far, my Sundance experience has been surprisingly sweet. But the third film on my schedule brought a little raunch to the festival experience. It came in the form of Carrie Preston (director) and Kellie Overbey's (screenwriter) That's What She Said, a comedy romp through New York City featuring a whole bunch of crazy women.

The story focuses on best friends DeeDee (Anne Heche) and Bebe (Marcia DeBonis) who are spending the day together to help Bebe prep for a long overdue date (hopefully with sex). DeeDee is a character tailor-made for a Sundance audience and Anne Heche plays her brilliantly! She's snarky, irreverent, funny, and partial to narcotics, booze, and cigarettes.  She also may be just a little too mean to be someone you'd really like.  And yet, I really liked her.

Heche steals the show. But her performance wouldn't be as good if it weren't for the brilliant portrayal of Bebe by Marcia DeBonis. The opening sequence featuring Bebe in the bathtub prepping for her date is outrageous.  And the running gag it sets up for the rest of the movie is ingenious, a testament to the brilliance of Overbey's script. Bebe is one of those characters that we all know and love . . . and hate. She's too sentimental; completely disorganized; a little scatterbrained; and that friend whose life always seems to be falling apart.

Throw in a nymphomaniac, a couple of lesbians, and you've got a raunchy, chick-lit version of one of those great crime caper films of the past, without all the crime. Oh wait, there is some crime.  I'll admit, I'm not sure how to describe this film.

That's What She Said isn't perfect.  It's brilliant when it embraces its over-the-top comedy.  But when it sways into dramatic territory it loses some of it's punch. Even the acting becomes obvious with characters losing their believability. The exception is the closing scene which is lovingly acted, strikingly art directed, and beautifully shot.

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