.

Full Frontal

Julia Roberts, David Duchovny

Directed by Steven Soderbergh
Rolling Stone: star rating
5 0
Community: star rating
5 0 0
July 25, 2002

Early buzz has been brutal on the experimental new movie from Steven Soderbergh. The rap is that the Oscar-winning director is full of himself for shooting Full Frontal in just eighteen days for a paltry $2 million using digital cameras available to any amateur (Free advice: Don't try this at home). Add to that the Soderbergh dogma that his starry cast, including Julia Roberts and David Duchovny, wear their own clothes and do their own hair and makeup.

Please! It's all part of the joke. Soderbergh may have created a bit of a mess with Full Frontal, but it's a playful and scrappy mess, alive to the potential of technology without letting it freeze off feeling. Soderbergh has teamed with first-time screenwriter Coleman Hough to follow seven Los Angeles characters during a single day. Roberts plays Francesca, an actress starring in a film in which she plays a lowly reporter doing a celeb interview. Her co-star Calvin (Blair Underwood) plays the celeb in the film within the film, which Soderbergh shoots in Hollywood style. The rest is done on DV, capturing the go-for-it spirit of Soderbergh's low-budget 1989 debut, Sex, Lies and Videotape.

Other characters include Gus (Duchovny), the producer of the movie; Carl (David Hyde Pierce), a writer for Los Angeles Magazine whose corporate VP wife, Lee (Catherine Keener), is having an affair with Calvin; and Lee's sister Linda (Mary McCormack), a hotel masseuse whose work on Gus leads to a financial proposition when Gus springs a boner. Duchovny has only one major scene, but he brings a humor and ache to it. The film's comic peak is Nicky Katt in a standout performance as an actor playing Hitler in a fringe-theater piece about the Führer and his therapist. Sounds awful, plays hilariously.

It's the death of one of these seven that links everyone in the end. Credit Hyde Pierce and Keener, who ground their characters in emotion, and Roberts and Underwood, who trace the subtle shifts of illusion and reality that define the actor's life. As to other questions — is Julia playing herself and what's with the size of Duchovny's boner? — you be the judge.

The fun comes in watching Soderbergh wing it, even when his film flies off the rails. I don't buy the theory that he is doing indie penance for scoring box-office hits with Erin Brockovich, Traffic and Ocean's 11. Soderbergh's work has always been rooted in rule-busting. It's just that Full Frontal, like Kafka and Schizopolis, busts more rules than usual. Is it a total success? No. Is it something any true film addict will want to check out? You bet.

prev
Movie Review Main Next

ADD A COMMENT

Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...

COMMENTS

Sort by:
    Read More

    Movie Reviews

    • joe Nicolas Cage
      star rating
      Roadside Attractions
    • star rating
      Summit Entertainment
    • star rating
      Paramount Pictures
    More Reviews »
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.

    X

    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories

    “Stillness Is the Move”

    Dirty Projectors | 2009

    A Wim Wenders film and a rapper inspired the Dirty Projectors duo David Longstreth and Amber Coffmanto write "sort of a love song." "We rented the movie Wings of Desire from Dave's brother's recommendation, and he had me go through it and just write down some things that I found interesting, and they made it into the song," Coffman said. As for the hip-hop connection, Longstreth explained, "The beat is based on T-Pain. We commissioned a radio mix of the song by the guy who mixes all of Timbaland's records, but the mix we made sounded way better, so we didn't use it."

    More Song Stories entries »
    www.expandtheroom.com