Have you ever wondered what it would feel like to have someone fulfill your deepest, darkest fantasy?
Have you ever wondered what it would feel like to be that someone?
With One Hour Fantasy Girl, writer/director Edgar Michael Bravo creates a world that is simultaneously dark and dense, intimate and disturbing, heartbreaking and honest.
Based upon a true story, One Hour Fantasy Girl centers around 20-year-old Becky (Kelly-Ann Tursi), a young woman who escaped from an abusive alcoholic of a mother at the age of 15 and has spent her subsequent years barely surviving on the streets of Los Angeles. Determined to do more than just survive, Becky unites with Chi (Paul D. Nguyen), an aspiring musician whose own debts have become overwhelming. Becky becomes the One Hour Fantasy Girl, a young woman who will make your every fantasy come true for the right price and, without exception, with no sex or kissing ever involved.
The list goes on.
Quickly, Becky picks up a couple steady clients including Roger (Jon Morgan Woodward), a music producer who could very well give Chi the break he's been looking for, and Bobby (Joe Luckay), a young man who rather predictably falls for the beautiful and mysterious Becky and wants her to have a better life.
It would be easy at this point to dismiss One Hour Fantasy Girl as just another low-budget, indie sexploitation flick.
With intelligence, insight and surprising tenderness, Bravo has painted a portrait of a young woman who somehow manages to become sympathetic without ever asking for sympathy. Portrayed by Kelly-Ann Tursi as a rather morose yet richly human young woman whose entire demeanor looks and feels weathered by the life she has lived, Becky is neither robot nor an artificially sweetened character. Instead, Becky's entire being permeates the life she has lived and the decisions she has made. She is neither proud of nor ashamed of becoming a fantasy girl. It is merely a choice she has made that she hopes, this time, will lead her to where she truly wants to be. Tursi's performance is magnificently understated, a disciplined and intimate journey through the soul of a young woman whose emotional existence seems to have become muted by life.
While One Hour Fantasy Girl clearly rests upon Tursi's marvelous performance, such an intimate and challenging film would likely fall apart without a supporting cast holding their own. Fortunately, Bravo and his production team have cast the film well from top to bottom.
Despite an early scene that involved what felt like trumped up conflict, Paul D. Nguyen largely shines as Chi, who seemingly functions as both pimp and protector to Becky. Chi's motivations are never quite clear, and Nguyen captures the ambiguity of the character nicely. It's difficult to determine, especially early on, whether or not Chi is simply a vile human being waiting to explode or a truly desperate young man merely trying to survive. Nguyen rides the fence nicely, his body at times appearing to be a tensed up ball of rage and, at other times, a repressed musician simply needing to live the life he knows he's supposed to be living.
In fact, this same ambiguity exists for virtually all the characters as their lives unfold before us. The beauty of these characters and, indeed, one of the reasons they come to matter to us is that Bravo refuses to paint them with broad strokes. Bobby, for example, is both frighteningly naive and yet almost borderline psychotic in the way he weaves his existence into that of Becky. In his first leading role, Joe Luckay avoids extremes and allows Bobby to simply be the flawed, yet richly human young man that he would likely be in flesh and blood.
Jon Morgan Woodward turns in a rather touching and courageous performance as the powerful record exec with rather abnormal fantasies, while Kalena Knox shines as a rather maternal woman who provides a safe haven for the insomniac Becky.
Given the film's rather modest production budget, tech credits are surprisingly solid throughout. Rush Hamden's camera work nicely companions Bravo's written word and the film's consistently subdued yet intimate performances. Likewise, Nima Fakhrara's original score is a startling and mood-setting partner as Becky's life twists and turns.
While there are brief moments where the indie nature of One Hour Fantasy Girl comes through, it is a credit to Bravo, his cast and production team that these moments subside quickly and give way to Bravo's excellent storytelling and this world in which his characters live.
Had Hollywood first gotten ahold of One Hour Fantasy Girl, we'd have likely experienced a shiny happy ending with a bright and beaming Becky having overcome her obstacles while singing and dancing her way into heavenly happiness.
That's now how life works. Is it?
Instead, Bravo wisely simply brings our journey to a satisfying yet still ambiguous closing that allows us to continue wondering, contemplating and meditating upon the lives of Becky and those others with whom we've journeyed.
What's the point?
That's what is up to us to decide.
A fine blend of tenderness and grit, intimacy and universal truths, One Hour Fantasy Girl is an honest and uncompromising journey through fantasies, reality, roles and one extraordinary young woman named Becky.
For more information on One Hour Fantasy Girl or to order the film on DVD, visit the film's website listed at the top of this page. You can also order the film through Amazon, GreenCine, ITunes and Netflix.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic