UC Observer logo
UCObserver on SoundCloud UCObserver on YouTube UCObserver on Facebook UCObserver on Twitter UCObserver's RSS Feeds

Full Frontal

Hollywood has fun at its own expense

By Kevin Spurgaitis

Full Frontal
Directed by Steven Soderbergh, starring Julia Roberts, Catherine Keener, Blair Underwood and David Hyde Pierce (Miramax)

As its cheeky title suggests, Full Frontal is a day in the life of the confused and dysfunctional people who inhabit the farcical world of Hollywood.

Ed (Enrico Colantoni) is a writer who has a script in production and a play that is about to open.

Linda (Mary McCormack) is a masseuse who looks forward to a weekend rendezvous with a stranger she met on the Internet. That man happens to be Ed. Linda’s sister Lee (Catherine Keener), an unhappy human resources VP whose marriage is flat and friendships are meaningless, has an affair with superstar actor Calvin (Blair Underwood).

Calvin is busy co-starring with Francesca (Julia Roberts) in a trite commercial romance about a reporter and a movie star who fall in love on the set of a cop picture. Calvin’s other co-star is none other than Brad Pitt, played, of course, in a cameo appearance by Brad Pitt.

Under Steven Soderbergh’s direction, cast members offer up superb, persona-busting performances. Nobody in this star-studded ensemble breaks new ground here, but they all revel in the chance to poke fun at themselves. Improvising much of their dialogue, the actors carry scenes without ever losing their deadpan demeanour. And the results, especially in the case of Keener and Underwood, are highly amusing.

The comedy is shot on muddy digital video and 35mm film, and the storytelling is very loose. As a consequence, the line is blurred between what is real and what is fiction. Through this dizzying framework, Soderbergh reveals both love and contempt for the city and industry that fuels it. But the Oscar-winning, independent-minded director never lets bitterness take over.

The gags come fast and, at times, seem a bit insular. Still, whether or not they are invited in on the fun, audiences come away with a much clearer picture of movie industry types and their everyday relationships — artificial as they may be.

Readers’ advisory: The discussion below is moderated by The UC Observer and facilitated by Intense Debate (ID), an online commentary system. The Observer reserves the right to edit or reject any comment it deems to be inappropriate. Approved comments may be further edited for length, clarity and accuracy, and published in the print edition of the magazine. Please note: readers do not need to sign up with ID to post their comments on ucobserver.org. We require only your user name and e-mail address. Your comments will be posted from Monday to Friday between 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Join the discussion today!

Interviews

Courtesy of Pixabay

Why this woman is leaving the Catholic Church in her 60s

by Angela Mombourquette

After a lifetime devoted to Catholicism, a Nova Scotia teacher is settling in with the United Church of Canada. Here, she explains why.

Promotional Image

Editorials

Jocelyn Bell%

Observations: It’s a long road toward full equality for women

by Jocelyn Bell

'It’s a wonder that we continue to see male ministers as normative and attach shame to female ministers’ biology and sexuality.'

Promotional Image

Video

ObserverDocs: Playing by Heart

by Observer Staff

United Church music director Kara Shaw was born prematurely, became almost totally blind and was later diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Today, the 28-year-old showcases her unique musical ability, performing piano on local and national stages.

Promotional Image

Faith

May 2018

Toronto church builds interfaith friendship

by Vivien Fellegi

Faith

May 2018

This parent found no support for her autistic daughter — and decided to change that

by Kieran Delamont

Suzanne Allen talks about raising a daughter on the autism spectrum and bringing all autistic girls together

Faith

May 2018

Church retreat helps first responders with PTSD

by Joe Martelle

Interviews

May 2018

Why this woman is leaving the Catholic Church in her 60s

by Angela Mombourquette

After a lifetime devoted to Catholicism, a Nova Scotia teacher is settling in with the United Church of Canada. Here, she explains why.

Ethics

May 2018

Pregnant in the pulpit

by Trisha Elliott

Ministers who take a maternity leave still face discrimination in their own congregations

Interviews

May 2018

The two words Rev. Cheri DiNovo wants to hear from the United Church

by Alex Mlynek

The Toronto minister talks about her disappointment over the church’s silence when she officiated the country’s first legalized same-sex marriage 17 years ago – and why she wants an apology.

Promotional Image