The best films come out of nowhere.
They blow you away. They make you laugh. They make you cry. They cause some weird psychological shift somewhere deep inside you that makes you think to yourself "My life is better because I've seen this film."
Indeed, my life is better because I've seen From Hollywood to Rose, one of the most delightful surprises I've seen in quite some time.
It made me laugh. A lot.
It made me cry. A little.
From Hollywood to Rose changed me somewhere deep down inside and, yeah, it made me absolutely know that my life is better for having spent nearly 90 minutes with these mostly anonymous strangers who share one ridiculously interconnected night on the LA metro system.
I haven't enjoyed a film this much in quite some time, a film that so completely immersed me in its world that as the closing credits were scrolling by I instantly found myself thinking "I want to watch it again."
Most of the time, even with the best indie films I found myself going "That was a great film, but..." In the case of From Hollywood to Rose, there was no "but," just the immense satisfaction of knowing I'd spent 90 minutes of my evening immensely entertained by people I loved, people I liked, people I didn't necessarily like and people who, despite their anonymity, I felt like I'd gotten to know over the course of our time together.
It all begins with a flawless and absolutely sublime performance by Eve Annenberg, writer/director of Romeo and Juliet in Yiddish, as a woman known merely as Woman in Wedding Dress. Indeed, that's all you really need to know because Annenberg fills in all the gaps and tells us everything else we need to know with her words and her deeds, her facial expressions and her complete lack of expression. I'm not sure I've ever been this completely in love with a cinematic performance. Annenberg instantly enters that special cinematic place where she's created such a vibrant and defined characterization that I truly can't imagine anyone else ever playing this Woman in Wedding dress.
Annenberg is the focal point for this interconnected group of strangers portrayed by mostly Angeleno artists whose ability to capture both the humanity of their characters and that unique Angeleno vibe is nothing short of perfection. Much like Annenberg's Woman in Wedding Dress, a good majority of these characters remain anonymous and known only by how they present themselves to us in all their eccentric glory. She is joined for much of the film by Angeleno actors Bradley J. Herman and Maxx Maulion, whose presence appears to be ripped straight out of the Clerks outtakes but whose presence quickly becomes so much more special and precious and funny and downright touching including a sublime, there's that word again, closing scene that was pulled off with perfect pitch and tone.
There's so much more. Really. While From Hollywood to Rose sounds like multiple other comedy flicks that you've seen before, it's like all of those flicks done right. Co-directed by Liz Graham and Matt Jacobs off of Jacobs's script, From Hollywood to Rose is the kind of quirky indie comedy with quirky indie characters that understands that quirky is a freaking fantastic thing to me, deeply human and real and authentic and so much more than merely being quirky.
But still quirky.
From Hollywood to Rose is opening in limited release on June 16th at the Laemmle Music Hall 3 in Beverly Hills for a week-long run that deserves to be so much more. Winner of Best Comedy Film at the Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival and Best Comedic Screenplay at the Manhattan Film Festival, From Hollywood to Rose is the kind of indie gem that frustrates the hell out of me because I want more people to see it and to love it and to feel as passionately about it as I do.
Yeah, I'm a little bit different. I know that. Hell, I'd probably be on that bus if it had a wheelchair lift and a couple of tie downs.
The film's ensemble cast, from featured players to bit roles, is cast to perfection with additional winning performances by stage actress Nija Okoro as Melody, Angeleno standup Isadora O'Boto as Woman in the Pink Dress, Linda Bisesti as The Lady with the Green Scarf, Chia Chen's Chinese Girl, MMA champ Krzysztof Soszynski and so many more.
I mean, what about that kid? I've been calling him "the why kid" because I couldn't figure out the poor kid's name. I found myself contacting the film's marketing rep going "Who is that?"
Beckett Rogers is his name. With one word, he's utterly amazing here and serves up a brief yet vital performance that gives the film yet another magnificent spark.
There's so much more.
Joel Diamond's original music is eclectic and inspired, while the lensing from James Carman and Jon Schweigart is raw, natural, observational and immersive all in one.
The script by Matt Jacobs is as rich in its silences as it is in its dialogue, while co-directors Jacobs and Graham manage to turn what could have so easily been just another quirky indie road comedy into a quiet little masterpiece.
I said it in the beginning and I'll say it again.
The best films? They come out of nowhere to completely blow you away. They make you laugh. They make you cry. They change the ways in which you look at life and love and community and journeys and even film. They change who you are and they make you look at the world around you with kaleidoscope eyes and maybe a little bit more of an open heart.
From Hollywood to Rose is one of these films and I'm better for having seen it.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic