Maya Dardel says lots of things about herself that explain why she's contemplating suicide. What she sees in the mirror and what she sees in the future make her want to cut out early—like Neil Young's lyrics, better to burn out than to fade away. She says she's "a good piece of fruit too long in the fridge," and in her world, "the light's gone out."

By the time the audience joins the successful author, she's already so numbly embedded in the idea of death as to render herself unlikeable in almost every way. Something about Maya recalls Gloria Steinem, but it's only in physicality, in age proximity, in long golden brown locks surrounding an angular face that just as well could (should?) be framed in ivory. Real-life Gloria is marching through her eighth decade with her bony hand famously clutching the torch of feminism, and we love her for it. Make-believe Maya has publicly declared that she'll end her own life so that she doesn't publish mediocre books. There's little here to love.

She's looking for someone to take over her estate after she does the do, and the executor has to be a young male writer, she tells an NPR interviewer in the first scene of the movie. After that, get ready to squirm. Maya is melancholy and manipulative, and she takes the role of cougar to an absurd, exploitive level. Lena Olin (Chocolat, Remember Me) plays this well, maximizing her gravelly and almost monotone voice. Rosanna Arquette's short interludes as nutty neighbor Leonora are a pleasant reprieve from the main character. The other person who makes the story watchable is Ansel, by Nathan Keyes (perhaps most notable as Justin Timberlake in made-for-TV Britney Ever After). One in the line of prospective pseudo-suitors, his introspection opens the door to empathy. Even with his presence, we don't love Maya, but we feel something. Does she?

5
+ Nathan Keyes spouts porcelain symbolism and trivia
– Slow pace, unlikable characters 
Maya Dardel
Directed by Zachary Cotler and Magdalena Zyzak
With Olin, Arquette and Keyes
Violet Crown, NR, 104 min.