|Dream for an Insomniac
Filmmaking is such a weird business. Sometimes it can take years
from first draft to final feature or years from final feature to release. Such
is the case with Dream for an Insomniac a pleasant romantic comedy that
marks the debut of writer-director Tiffanie DeBartolo. Shot in 1995 and
shown at film festivals in 1996, it is receiving a belated release nearly three
years after the cameras first rolled.
DeBartolo takes an off-beat premise and concocted a cockeyed
romance. Francesca — Frankie — played winningly by Ione Skye is an aspiring
actress whose life has been colored — actually made black-and-white
(literally) — by the deaths of her parents when she was a child. Plagued by
insomnia and searching for Mr. Right, she passes the time as a waitress in
her uncle's coffee shop while half-heartedly pursuing a career as an actress.
Her best friend (played by Jennifer Aniston) — another actress who
is always trying out new accents (annoyingly) — has convinced her to move
to L.A. Suddenly, everything changes with the arrival of David Schrader
(Mackenzie Astin looking like Edward Burns' long-lost younger brother),
whose blue eyes and sharp wit appeal to Frankie. The film literally goes
from black-and-white to color (a burnished look provided by cinematographer
Guillermo Navarro) and the story kicks in. Frankie is instantly smitten and
so, too, is David — or so everyone thinks. They cutely try to play one-up by
trying to stump the other with quotations. David even tries to help Frankie
overcome her insomnia, cutting off her caffeine, reading her bedtime stories.
Of course, with Frankie set to leave in two days and the arrival of David's
girlfriend, the oddly named Molly Monday, complications ensue. Will David
realize that Frankie is the girl for him? Is this a movie?
What saves the film from devolving into treacle are the central
performances. Skye brings a tartness and an old-fashioned glamour to
her role. With her dark hair and pouty lips, she is a 40s movie star stuck
in a 90s indie. If anyone ever questioned whether talent is genetic than
Mackenzie Astin is sure-fire proof. In this film, he displays a winning charm,
rakish good looks and a centering presence. Aniston tries hard but she's
saddled with the worst role — the accent thing becomes tiresome.
Michael Landes is okay as the gay cousin who finally comes out to his
father (a rather tired subplot). Seymour Cassel lends indie credibility
in the role of Frankie's uncle — the wise, golf-playing owner of the café.
Dream for an Insomniac is a slight first film that nevertheless
offers some pleasures. While it owes much in spirit to the screwball
comedies of the 30s, it is suffused with 90s sensibilities that undercut
the humor. It is a film that certainly indicates that hyphenate DeBartolo
has talent. One hopes she can build on this interesting beginning.
|© 2007 by C. E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.