In the opening scene of Henry Barrial's somewhat indulgent video verité feature Some Body, Sam (Stephanie Bennett) sits in her elementary school classroom telling a children's story. Although she addresses the camera directly, she weaves the tale with all the pizzazz of the joke teller at your local bar who launches into a boring shaggy dog story as soon as he's had one too many. This is an unfortunate reflection of things to come in Barrial's disappointing document of the emotional growth of a woman in her twenties.
After the uneventful setup, we see Sam at a party - laughing, drinking too much, maybe even fooling around with a good-looking man. What we don't see is that Sam lives with Anthony (Jeramy Guillory), a fey guy who keeps his cool at the party but lectures her the next morning about her shenanigans. All this leads to an eventual breakup, giving Sam a chance to move on out and sow her wild oats.
Except she doesn't do all that much sowing and her oats just aren't that wild. She moves into a Melrose Placeish apartment development (it is L.A., for Chrissakes) and sleeps with the first guy she sees. Not a big surprise. As Sam's story progresses, the depths of her experiences do not, leaving the audience fairly disinterested. She plays the field, fights with Anthony about visiting the dog, and gets jealous when Anthony hooks up with a new hottie. It just feels all-too-standard, and Barrial's attempts at a faux documentary lack the entertainment value that they should possess (try Ross McElwee's real-life family documentaries to see how entertaining the approach can be).
It doesn't help that Barrial's style also lacks depth. Most scenes are filled with extreme facial close-ups meant to invite investigation, I'm sure, but not having the emotional strength behind them to mean anything. Barrial also employs the dreaded, overused slow motion effect, assuming his scenes and characters carry more weight than they actually do. And when he speeds up the motion (an admirable try, actually) the result is an amateurish, overzealous attempt at imparting a frenetic pace. All of this is made worse by Geoffrey Pepos's videography, which often looks like the result of your buddy following you around with his new DV camera. Sure, shooting on video is cheap, but it also demands an extra responsibility to make your subjects and your project look good.
The bright spots in Some Body come from the freedom and realism that the actors contribute. Bennett leads the way, boldly throwing herself into some shameless predicaments, playing her role with the widely varying emotions that her situation demands. When her friends discuss her changes and suggest that she's a slut, we can see where they're coming from but we also feel a little defensive for her.
Sean Michael Allen is another standout, playing a possible relationship interest for Sam, a guy that gets hooked in by her sexual prowess and then sticks around. His delivery is the fullest and most accurate of any actor in the film and when he swoops into an unnecessary, jealous rage when meeting one of Sam's one-night-stands, we feel it.
Some Body - and the title's a little too cool-smart smarmy, by the way - exists then as an occasionally insightful acting exercise. Because once Barrial gives us a character like Tony T., a lonely hotshot presented as such a goofy caricature that he seems like a featured player in a Godfather spoof, we know he's just not locked in. Maybe he thinks a guy like that will liven up the festivities - if so, that's a good hunch because much of the time, Some Body needs it.