May 22, 2011
Big Cinema Theater
Mario Van Peebles
Written, Produced and Directed by Michael Bergmann
Director of Photography: Douglas Underdahl
Production Designer: Tracy Steele
Postproduction sound and rerecording mixer: Steven Visscher
Assistant Sound Editor: Sarah Starbuck
Supervising Editor: Anthony Sloman
Editor: Jonathan Sloman
The movie begins on the last day of Naomi Holbroke’s marriage. After 9,125 consecutive burned dinners, each one of which results in a quarrel with her husband, she admits her failure as housewife to a high-ranking British government official and sets off to reclaim the acting career she gave up “for him” twenty-five years ago.
In France at a small film festival, she meets Billy Rust, a man her age who directed a legendary cult film twenty-five years ago and has done nothing since. He’s in Europe looking for actors for his next film and Naomi falls in love with…his script, particularly with the sequence in which the girl gets tied to a chair. Alas, the part calls for a “name or a much younger woman with a much more voluptuous figure” but Naomi perseveres and extracts a promise of a screen test in New York after getting Billy to tie her to a chair in his hotel room. Unfortunately Billy falls asleep right after making this promise, leaving Naomi to get herself out of his room, and down the stairs to the hotel lobby still tied to the chair.
Bruised but hopeful, Naomi arrives in New York for her screen test. On the way in from the airport the taxi driver takes all her money and then stops on the highway and tells her to get out. Worried about being late for her screen test, Naomi tricks him and steals the taxi. She arrives at the screen test with several police cars chasing the stolen taxi but has a larger problem when she gets to Billy Rust’s loft: his body, or at least a body with the same taste in neckties, is lying beheaded on the floor surrounded by detectives and crime scene techs.
Whatever trouble she is in now pales by comparison when Detective Peter Farrell barges in: the taxi driver is a suspected member of a cell that has been linked to a huge amount of dynamite stolen from construction sites around the city, and he wants the woman who was driving that taxi.
Farrell is not so easily convinced that Naomi just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and Naomi has the feeling that for the first time in her life she may be in exactly the right place at the right time. And indeed, by the end of the film, after a number of increasingly dangerous mishaps and an equal number of increasingly brilliant stratagems, Naomi has foiled the plot and saved the city, though it is unclear how that will help her aspirations as an actress.
Naomi Holbroke is an unlikely hero for a movie, but just as a lot of evil is done by people who are sure they are right, a lot of good can be done by someone who’s used to being wrong. We need people like Naomi, though our dry cleaning bills will surely go up.