Art (Danny Huston) is a powerful London art dealer and close friends of jet-setting collectors Jean and Bob (Anderson and Skarsgard), whose marriage is badly strained by Bob's wandering eye. He's in the process of setting up his mistress Beth (Graham), one of Art's employees, with her own gallery. So Jean seduces Beth's boyfriend, a young artist (Jack Huston). Meanwhile, a video artist (Winstone) is cruelly using her curator best friend (Cumming) as a subject. And Alfreda (Lumley) is trying to convince her elderly husband (Lee) to part with his valuable Mondrian Boogie Woogie painting.
There are moments along the way when the film achieves a high-spirited tone that sharply skewers the art world. And the variety of plot threads lets us see things from several sides, even if each strand feels both over-plotted and under-developed. But Moynihan astutely observes the jealousies, competitions and hilarious pettiness of the scene. And the actors really dive into their roles.
Most enjoyable is Anderson's brassy drunk, a jumble of confidence and desperation who gives the film its heart. Huston seems to be channelling someone specific (perhaps insiders know who), while Skarsgard and Lumley offer dryly comical performances. Cumming has the film's most wrenching character, while Rampling's cameo is a terrific diversion. On the other hand, Graham, Seyfried and Winstone play women who have a lot of potential but are thinly sketched by the script (and editing).
Strangely, director Ward adds a creepy misogynistic tone, with all of these predatory, sleazy men plus camerawork that leers at female anatomy, which leaves the gay subplots feeling almost offensively cursory. What we're left with is a film packed with intriguing but deeply unlikeable characters who are using each other for personal gain. And since it's going in so many different directions, we're left chuckling at the witty dialog and sharp performances but uninterested in the bigger issues the premise is raising. Which leaves the final irony feeling clever but a little pointless.
Run time: 94 mins
In Theaters: Wednesday 21st April 2010
Distributed by: IFC Films
Production compaines: Autonomous
Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 36%
Fresh: 8 Rotten: 14
IMDB: 5.3 / 10
Director: Duncan Ward
Producer: Danny Moynihan, Kami Naghdi, Christopher Simon, Cat Villiers
Screenwriter: Danny Moynihan
Starring: Gillian Anderson as Jean Maclestone, Heather Graham as Beth Freemantle, Amanda Seyfried as Paige Prideaux, Alan Cumming as Dewey, Danny Huston as Art Spindle, Christopher Lee as Alfred Rhinegold, Jack Huston as Jo Richards, Joanna Lumley as Mrs. Alfreda Rhinegold, Simon McBurney as Robert Freign, Meredith Ostrom as Joany, Charlotte Rampling as Emille, Stellan Skarsgård as Bob Maclestone, Jaime Winstone as Elaine, Alfie Allen as Photographer, Gemma Atkinson as Charlotte Bailey, Silas Carson as Surgeon, Rosie Fellner as Rachel Leighton, Rosie Fellner as Rachel Leighton
Also starring: Stellan Skarsgard