Magazine article Screen International

She's Funny That Way

Magazine article Screen International

She's Funny That Way

Article excerpt

Dir: Peter Bogdanovich. US. 2014. 93mins

Peter Bogdanovich's love letter to the type of freewheeling sex comedy that was staple Hollywood fare in years gone by is a real pleasure, blessed with a series of smart and knowing performances and driven by a frothy sense of mainstream fun. She's Smart That Way, which premiered at Venice, might lack the sophistication of Woody Allen at his best, but it is a delightful return to form for Bogdanovich, reminding at times of his screwball classic What's Up Doc?

Plus Bogdanovich smartly keeps the pace up, means there is no time to focus on the more preposterous aspects. Instead the focus is on easy laughs, smart lines, nice performances and a freewheeling sense of fun.

A strong ensemble cast seem to really embrace the broad comedy structure - it has a rather stage-bound feel - and he has cast performers at ease at providing the laughs, and while perhaps too old fashioned in tone to click with a youthful audience it could well find a welcome reception from older viewers ready to embrace its in-jokes and easy laughs.

The film's interweaving story of romantic misadventures, happy hookers, obsessed old men and privileged showbiz types does feel like familiar classic Hollywood comedy fare, which of course isn't a bad thing at all. Plus Bogdanovich smartly keeps the pace up, means there is no time to focus on the more preposterous aspects. Instead the focus is on easy laughs, smart lines, nice performances and a freewheeling sense of fun.

The film also allows yet another terrific platform for the talents of young British actress Imogen Poots, this time channeling her inner Mira Sorvino a la Mighty Aphrodite to play a New York escort girl with dreams of being an actress, whose chance encounter with an unusual man sees her life take a whole different change of direction.

The film is punctuated by her character Izzy recounting the story of her life to a cynical journalist (Illeana Douglas) and explaining how she first met theatre director Arnold (Owen Wilson), the man who ends up changing her life. He books into a plush Manhattan hotel and calls an escort agency, ending up spending the night with Izzy (or 'Glo', her escort name). In the morning he offers her $30,000 if she will give up being a prostitute and follow her dreams.

Impressed by his romanticism (and a whimsical do-your-own-thing philosophy that she embraces) she does exactly that. Complications almost immediately ensue when her very first audition is for the Broadway play Arnold is directing, starring his wife Delta (Kathryn Hahn) and Hollywood lothario Seth Gilbert (Rhys Ifans), who is in love with Delta and who also happens to have spotted Izzy leaving Arnold's hotel room early in the morning. …

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