1996 Directed by Robert Byington. Starring Natalie Karp, Scott Rhodes, Carmen Nogales.
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., June 4, 1993
Another in what may be a steady stream of films shot in Austin and featuring the exploits of those lovable goofs, the twentysomething Generation, Shameless is the story of three friends caught up in a very Austin love triangle. Rhodes (whom you may remember from Richard Linklater's Slacker) is an architecture grad student who meets Nogales and winds up falling for her spacey, kleptomaniac roommate (Karp). Byington keeps this light story from falling to pieces with a series of plot twists and turns that mostly center around Karp's unending appetite for cheap thrills and breaking and entering. It may be a cliché to say it, but Shameless is shamelessly an “Austin” film. Apart from the readily identifiable Austin landmarks scattered throughout, Byington has lifted the film's tone seemingly straight off the city's streets. All three of the main characters here have sprung full-blown off the Drag or the West Campus area. Their conversations, whether they're talking about sex, religion, or architecture, have a believable, unscripted appeal to them that rings true no matter how you slice it. Likewise with the way they carry themselves when around each other. The problem with all this West Campus realism, though, becomes apparent when the house lights go up and you sit there wondering, is that all there is? Shameless, despite its excellent, empathetic characters and above-average cinematography, remains such an ordinary sliver of everyday life that it's hard to care about it one way or the other. I see these things go on every day, and more likely than not, so do you. So what? It's hard to improve on real life; Shameless doesn't even try, and I suspect that was hardly its intention. As a working record of a Gen-X, Austinite love triumvirate, it's great. Apart from that, though, there's not much there.