Film Review with Robert Mann – One Hour Fantasy Girl

Having worked for the producers of Juno, The Grudge and Harold and Kumar at Mandate Pictures for four years, learning under then president Joe Drake (COO, Lionsgate), John Paul Rice is a film producer who has had much opportunity to learn from those who have found considerable success in the movie industry and has now begun his own journey to success, creating his own independent production company called No Restrictions Entertainment

– a particularly apt name considering that their first film goes to some places that many Hollywood studios would likely steer well clear of. Having just wrapped their third film a psychological drama/thriller entitled Mother’s Red Dress and with their second film, a thriller entitled The Magic Stone currently in post-production, their first film, One Hour Fantasy Girl is heading for a limited release in cinemas next year (in America at the very least). All three films are written and directed by Rice’s producing partner, Latino filmmaker Edgar Michael Bravo and as debuts go One Hour Fantasy Girl is a strong one.

One Hour Fantasy Girl is a compelling coming-of-age drama that is like no other film of its kind. Boldly honest and thought provoking, the film introduces audiences to the world of a twenty-year-old fantasy girl Becky Lewis (Kelly-Ann Tursi), who escaped an alcoholic mother at the age of 15 and has been surviving on her own in Los Angeles ever since. Having always struggled for money, Becky becomes business partners with Chi Trang (Paul D. Nguyen), an aspiring musician, who convinces her to work as a fantasy girl who acts out any fantasy a guy wants as long as there is no sex, no nudity, and is 100% legal. She immediately gains three frequent customers, masochistic record producer Roger (Jon Morgan Woodward), the seemingly nice Bobby (Joe Luckay) and real estate agent Sal (John Buckley Gordon), who change her life forever. Becky finds herself in a web of deceit, betrayal and murder that forces her to give up her own happiness. Shaken and bruised, yet determined to make it, Becky pushes forward hoping to earn enough money to invest in real estate and make the “big bucks”. Her journey leads her to find an unlikely ally who, for a moment, gives her the break she’s never had.

One Hour Fantasy Girl is a film that is likely to be an acquired taste for moviegoers – the kind of person who frequents independent film festivals will undoubtedly consider this film to be a masterful work of art while the average moviegoer who prefers the usual output from Hollywood may not see what all the fuss is about. I, however, find myself falling between these two camps, not quite as entranced by the film as many critics before me have been but also able to see all the strengths that the film has from both a technical and an emotive standpoint. First, the technical side. Director Edgar Michael Bravo and director of photography Rush Hamden have really done a lot with the micro budget they had to work with, delivering some vibrant high definition cinematography that gives the film a distinctive look and brings out vibrancy of colour and, together with some very good use of focus, gives an almost otherworldly look to everyday real life places and environments. Additionally, in flashback sequences that detail Becky’s childhood turmoil, the use of a drained palette and a blue tint to the image creates a very distinctive looking image, something that heightens the effectiveness of the scenes. Things like this make the film visually appealing, the camera work and editing never less than effective. Sound is also used quite effectively at times. There is no denying the technical prowess that is on display here. Where the film may lose some people, though, is in its other attributes, in particular the film’s portrayal of the fantasies of Becky’s clients. While the film is gladly lacking sexual content and what we see of the fantasies never goes too far, it is likely that some will find these scenes very repulsive as the fantasies are indeed quite disturbing and those having them quite deranged. As disturbing as they are, however, they are essential to the storyline – which is based on a true story I might note. To fully understand Becky as a character we need to see the kind of things she has to do and deal with on a day to day basis and these scenes, along with her interactions with two people working at a local diner – Tom (Phillip Timothy Gay) and Dianthia (Kalena Knox) – and the flashbacks to her childhood allow us to understand why she is such a fragile and emotionally damaged character. The story itself isn’t as engaging as it could be and has a few twists and turns that will come as little surprise to some but it does at least feature characters that are completely believable and provide them with dialogue that sounds authentic. Everyone here delivers a strong performance but it is Kelly-Ann Tursi who deserves the most plaudits for her entirely convincing portrayal of a woman doing what she has to do to survive, acting out of desperation rather than desire. Elsewhere in the cast, Joe Luckay proves to be more than we initially, displaying the ability to portray more than one personality type and Joe Morgan Woodward is appropriately twisted. So, is the film a one and a half hour fantasy? This will depend entirely on who is watching. It could be said that this is an indie film for an indie audience and anyone who falls into such a demographic will find much to love, the film proving quite harrowing to sit through but quite rewarding as well, but others may find the whole thing to be missing that something that could have made it truly great. Whatever the case, however, Edgar Michael Bravo displays much technical prowess and for this reason the film has quite a lot to recommend it and I must say this to him (I apologise in advance for this) – bravo! One Hour Fantasy Girl is a solid debut that scores well with its technical proficiency that undoubtedly makes an emotional impression, just doesn’t engage as much as it could and proves slightly off putting with its ‘fantasy’ scenes.

One Hour Fantasy Girl ***½

Review by Robert Mann BA (Hons)

© BRWC 2010.

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Alton loves film. He is founder and Editor In Chief of BRWC.  Some of the films he loves are Rear Window, Superman 2, The Man With The Two Brains, Clockwise, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, Trading Places, Stir Crazy and Punch-Drunk Love.

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