Tanna Frederick, Victoria Tennant, Andrea Marcovicci, Karen Black, Lanre Idewu
WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY
The films of Henry Jaglom aren't so much an acquired taste as they are an either/or kind of cinematic experience. In other words, either you appreciate Jaglom's relentlessly inward style of filmmaking or you find it pandering, excessive and psychological masturbation to the highest degree. When Jaglom is "on," such as in Hollywood Dreams, Jaglom's fierce dedicating to self-exploration makes for innovative and exciting cinema. However, when Jaglom occasionally hits a wrong note, Jaglom's approach feels unnecessarily histrionic and lacking in the one thing that should always be present in a Jaglom film...authenticity.
In Irene in Time, a film Jaglom dedicates to his daughter, Irene (Tanna Frederick) is looking for a man she can love as intensely as she loved her recently departed father. The problem is that her obsession with her father is obvious and, despite what Jaglom seems to view as the best of intentions, Irene sabotages virtually every relationship, date or even thought of a date with conversations about daddy and her obviously unresolved daddy issues. Irene comes off as the beautiful girl with a larger than life personality with whom you can't believe you actually got a date only to realize a few minutes into the date that you may very well have been better off with the homely girl with a dry personality who was sitting right next to her.
Truthfully, if I were to become a director I could see myself being a rather psychotic blend of Jaglom, Jarmusch and a touch of Araki. Even as a film critic, I've been known to drive other critics batty with my occasionally personalized reviews and self revelations. I don't do film criticism the way film criticism is supposed to be done and Jaglom, who has been largely financing his own films since the early 70's, doesn't do filmmaking the way filmmaking is supposed to be done.
So, I guess that means I do, in fact, have an appreciation for Jaglom's way of making a film.
That said, even with the best director, sometimes the film itself simply doesn't connect and, unfortunately, far too often Irene in Time is neither interesting nor particularly entertaining. Irene spends most of her days hanging out with her gal pals and recording godawful tunes in what looks like your neighborhood recording studio. The studio scenes largely serve as transition scenes for the film's scene after scene of dialogue centered upon virtually every angle of the father/daughter relationship possible.
The fatal flaw, if it's possible to pinpoint one, is that Irene's obsession seems completely unfounded and is never even remotely explained within the context of the film. Instead, as Irene in Time plays itself out Irene's obsession with her father becomes more inexplicable as we learn more about how Irene has seemingly romanticized the few glorious moments her father actually paid her decent attention and practiced a bit of parenting. For the most part, daddy seems like quite the slacker.
Frederick, who turned in a strong performance in Hollywood Dreams, is less convincing here but it's difficult to determine whether or not this is because of the material she's given to work with or a problem with the performance itself. It is worth noting that both Victoria Tennant and Jaglom regular Andrea Marcovicci shine in supporting roles, lending credibility to the idea that the problem is a weaving together of character development and interpretation. At least for this writer, Irene just never registers on the level that one would expect given the story that's unfolding and the Jaglom's cinematic history.
Hanania Baer's camera work is strong, guided by Jaglom's gifted eye for catching the unspoken communication going on in a conversation. Baer has a nice way of creating a sense of fluidity in the dialogue heavy scenes, a technique that keeps Irene in Time from ever feeling bogged down. While Harriet Schock's original music would be right at home at a women's folks music festival, as part of Irene in Time it only serves to amplify the film's lack of an emotional core despite the inherent emotional aspects of the topic itself.
An intriguing idea that never quite gels into a cohesive film, Irene in Time is likely only a "must see" for diehard fans of Jaglom and his growing ensemble of acting regulars such as Frederick and Marcovicci. Having recently completed a festival and limited arthouse run, Irene in Time is soon to be released on DVD.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic