Aisha Tyler made a movie. And people in Hollywood seem to love it. And I love Aisha Tyler. And there's my predicament: As much as I think Tyler is an underappreciated talent and a vital addition to the body of female directors, I didn't love this movie. It was … fine.
In fairness, Tyler (who plays Lana Kane in Archer) picked a really hard movie to make. The guy-in-the-car-on-the-phone genre is pretty limiting. Plus, Stephen Knight directed a brilliant performance from Tom Hardy in 2013's Locke that set the bar awfully high.
Armed with a script from writer Emmett Hughes (The O'Briens), who also stars, Tyler introduces us to Tristan Blake, an on-the-edge star with a history of abusing most substances. Simultaneously. While the movie takes place entirely inside a vehicle, it actually spans a year and transports us from a Porsche to a Land Rover.
Blake is headed home to his Southern-belle-doctor girlfriend. The calls he takes and makes on the way through Los Angeles bring him to the brink of collapse. Blake is a guy who's fought hard for his career and, we learn, finally seems to know what he wants. How much we end up caring for the guy is up for debate, and it's what a film like this hinges on. Hughes and Tyler wisely include hefty doses of his personal life and, it seems, try to keep the Hollywood stuff in check. But by the end of the movie, which has a purposeful plot, I just didn't care a lot.
Movie reviews are, to a large extent, subjective. Don't let this opinion stop you from going. It's one guy's thoughts and Hughes' performance may resonate much more with you than it did with me. Tyler's acting is a strong point, it may also be fun to try to pick out some of the myriad voice cameos. And since Tyler and Hughes are going to be at the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival to talk about how to navigate such a tricky piece of moviemaking, your risk may be rewarded.
+ Some nifty camerawork by Lowell Meyer; Tyler's acting
– Watching someone else's phone ring is still annoying
Directed by Tyler
Starring Hughes, Tyler, Emily Bett Rickards and Thomas Gibson
Jean Cocteau Cinema, NR, 85 min.