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STUDIO: Lions Gate
RUNNING TIME: 89 min
Sex, drugs and rock n roll in the Los Angeles underbelly.
Director: Jason Freeland
Writer: Jason Freeland
Cinematographer: Robert Benavides
Cast: Willa Holland, Richard Gunn, Erik Smith, Alexander Cendese, Vinessa Shaw
April is a young girl in Los Angeles looking for her place in life. She crosses paths with a number of disjointed kids who have also lost their way. The only successful person is Sally, but she isn’t the most stable person either.
Garden Party is a multi-character drama involving a group of kids trying to find their way in Los Angeles. April (Willa Holland) is a fifteen year old whose mother is in Vegas, either stripping or working as a cocktail waitress depending on who you believe. Todd (Richard Gunn) is a sex addict, addicted to porn but detached from his own wife. Sammy (Erik Smith) is a musician trying to find a band as well as a place to call his home. Nathan (Alexander Cendese) is the assistant for Sally (Vinessa Shaw), the best realtor in the area and a man who finds himself attracted to the wrong type of men.
Very few of the actors in the movie are very high quality. Neither Erik Smith as the young wanna be rock star nor Alexander Cendese, who plays an obviously gay man with ulterior motives for helping the young man are believable in their roles.
Willa Holland (Kaitlin from The O.C.) is quite solid in her role as the young girl wanting to find a better life for herself than her mother ever had. Holland was seventeen when the film was released and plays a part that is pretty risqué for a girl her age. I would say that with such a young cast, in a movie about this subject matter, it probably proved difficult to find quality cast members. Holland was quite a find and, other than Vinessa Shaw, is the only positive addition to the cast.
The problem with the movie is that the director is too preoccupied with connecting these characters’ stories and there is really no reason for them to ever have met. If there is one thing I hate it is contrived coincidence. The only thing these kids have in common is their need for acceptance and the need to find their place in life. The sexual promiscuity and drug use is added to give the movie flavor but it is still just a slice of a group of people’s uninteresting lives.
The direction is shot in a way that makes you always aware that Jason Freeland is making sure you don’t miss his intentions. When Todd is talking to Sally with one desire in mind, you know because the camera moves in on close up of her lips. There are also times where he has to position the camera in a specific place because Holland was a minor and he can’t show her nude scenes. It is an uninteresting movie full of uninteresting people shot in an uninteresting way.
I am not surprised the movie was originally based on a group of short stories he had written. The movie is disjointed and nothing about it makes me care about any of the individual stories. To me, it’s just the story of a bunch of people who sell their souls to become something and questions whether or not it was worth it. For me, the movie wasn’t worth it.
There is a DVD case, holding a DVD disc with the movie on it. You can also view the trailer.
4.7 out of 10