Izzy Gets the Fuck Across Town
2018, NR, 86 min. Directed by Christian Papierniak. Starring Mackenzie Davis, Alia Shawkat, Haley Joel Osment, Carrie Coon, Alex Russell, Sarah Goldberg, Lakeith Stanfield, Annie Potts, Brandon T. Jackson.
REVIEWED By Danielle White, Fri., July 20, 2018
We love stories about fuck-ups, right? Perhaps it’s because we’ve all been through a “rough patch” in life, or maybe it makes us feel better because at least someone else’s shit (even that of a fictional character) is less together than our own. It’s cathartic in a judge-y way.
Writer/director Christian Papierniak’s first full-length feature zeroes in on one fuck-up in particular, the titular Izzy (Davis, Tully, Black Mirror’s “San Junipero”) on what is likely the worst day of her life: After waking up next to a stranger and piecing together the night-before, she finds out (through Instagram!) that her ex-bf plans on marrying her ex-bff and the engagement party starts in a few hours. "Better rush over there and ruin everything!" Izzy thinks.
What follows is a Homeric hipster adventure as our disheveled hero traipses across L.A. meeting eccentric characters along the way – the most memorable of which is Tinder queen Agatha Benson (Arrested Development and Green Room's Shawkat, dressed like one of the Golden Girls, oozing glamour even when passed out drooling in a chair). Agatha is the foil to Izzy’s fool as the indirect discourse turns to whether there’s such a thing as fate or if we’re all at the mercy of “random fucking chaos.” And it’s all mighty existential and interesting, yet the introduction of this heady topic acts as prelude to a rather bizarre, if dark, comedic situation. The timing, like everything in this movie, is a little off-kilter.
The storytelling format is something like a mixtape. Listening to it reinforces the delusion of memory. Izzy is propelled by a punky soundtrack (Axemen, Bikini Kill) that charges the air with the best of bad intentions as Davis grounds the film in magnetic narcissism. The action is interspersed with purple-tinged scenes of three versions of Izzy, acting as the Fates in this modern myth, as they converse in a spoken-word style. Much of the dialogue and acting has that same performance art/bad poetry tone, as though we’re watching a play in a less than full theatre. In some scenes there’s a resonance to the sound design that feels a little tinny. Some low-angle shots read less like they have a sense of purpose and more like someone just put the camera there because they forgot they were in the middle of doing something else. And I think it’s got something to do with DIY ethos – even if the thing you’re doing yourself is crashing your ex’s party. One thing about riot grrrls: They never say die.