Harry Potter!
Cinema Signal:

Brilliant Madness:
Living with Manic Depressive Illness

. "I Love Your Work"

I may not love your work but I don't think much of your mind, either. The mind, that is, of the guy responsible for this cult psychodrama on steroids, writer-director Adam Goldberg.

His Gray Evans (Giovanni Ribisi) is a movie star who can't go far without being recognized and adulated but he's being led down the path of depression by psychotic paranoia spiked with narcissism. He's married to his boyhood idol, Mia (Franka Potente), who truly loves him, but she's more the inspiration for distrust than love and joy. Self-destruction lurks in the wings.

He begins to see one of his fans (Jason Lee) as a stalker and hires Israeli security expert Yehud (Jared Harris), operating as a P.I., to check him out. Again, when he suspects the chance meeting and re-meeting of a guy named John (Joshua Jackson), who runs a book store, as more than a coincidence, he brings Yehud back in and sets him to surveil the new manifestation of his disease. When he becomes satisfied that John and his girlfriend Jane (Marisa Coughlan) are as unthreatening as they appear (and as uninteresting), he begins an involvement with them that has nothing but a deranged nuttiness behind it.

All the while, he keeps recalling his past relationship with Shan (Christina Ricci) as some sort of ideal that his current life doesn't live up to. This becomes recurring imagery until psychosis builds and takes over. He then cross-projects past and present, imagining Mia and others as part of that fantasized past and Shan as part of his present, mixing reality and delusion into a pointless stew.

It all might have worked as a portrait of a cool actor losing his mind if it weren't done with such an excess of technique and over-elaboration.

Okay, Ribisi is a good actor, but themes of obsession and voyeurism are all so overproduced the quality of his performance is drowned in length and visual excess. Potente ("Run Lola Run," "The Bourne Supremacy") as a reigning diva of the screen, provides a new page in her portfolio, though there's not enough in the part to make waves. Ricci is as dreamy as her imagined existence, and Jared Harris is a breath of fresh air for turning his stereotypical role into something colorful. Given more screen time, he might have stole the show.

Vince Vaughn and Elvis Costello appear in refreshing cameos that, for brief moments, promise some dramatic direction but, in the end, provide no therapy for the general indulgence with celebrity madness and film festival hipness.

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                                      ~~  Jules Brenner  

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