Crime Fiction

"OK"

Crime Fiction Review


Here's a secret -- every writer wants his or her name to be famous.

Whether driven by popularity or a quest for validation, it's an egotistical desire that stems from the feeling that what he or she writes is important. When Crime Fiction rests on the assumption that we'll sympathize with the loathsome writer anti-hero, it couldn't be more off-putting. The reality is that no one cares about who we are as writers; they only care about what we write.

The premise of Crime Fiction is far too clever. After wallowing in his own self-pity for about 20 minutes, failed aspiring writer James Cooper inadvertently kills his girlfriend in an argument and then decides to write a novel about his sin and the cover-up. Even from the plot summation, the self-indulgence is stifling. From the get-go, James is not an interesting character. Given our post-post-modern era, the self-loathing, uncomfortably honest writer character was done to death by Woody Allen 30 years ago. Unfortunately for Crime Fiction, writer, and subsequent star, of the film Jonathan Eliot brings nothing new to the characterization table. In fact, it's the offensive and successful writer character Don Lee Boone that becomes the most likable character in the film. Sometimes funny, always absurd, Boone -- the extremist, established writer who takes James under his wing after he sacrifices his ethics for his novel -- chases down car crashes to ask the victims what it feels like to be dying and drives around in a gaudy yellow hummer with an "I Crush U" license plate. Crass to be sure, but at least it's a character with energy. Make no mistake, Boone is all about himself, but as a writer he knows that is not what people want to read about, or watch.

Aside from Boone's antics and claims of showing James a world with women whose heads are below their shoulders, the film finally gets interesting after about an hour, as it jumps from city to city in James' book tour with little transition (other than a title card) -- creating a vignette feeling that highlights different stages of James' guilt, despair, and paranoia. It is these feelings that we connect with, not James' inability to write a good story (or entertain us for that matter). This is also the point when the movie starts to fold in on itself -- as James and Boone decide to write a book about a writer killing his girlfriend and then writing a book about it. It's the glimmer of a thematic highlight, but Eliot stumbles over in it. Due to the film's serious first third -- shown in the disdain for criticism that's leveled against James for his failed first novel -- it's obvious that Crime Fiction wasn't created as a meditation against the introspective writer plot, but rather falls into its own parody. Instead of fighting the goofiness, Eliot lets Boone run amuck in the last incomprehensible 20 minutes, if only to distract us from the fact that the movie's narrative is unraveling.

Still, there's something endearing about this sophomoric effort. Director Will Slocombe provides a solid cinematic palate for Eliot's story, even if it does feel like film-by-numbers. Perhaps it's more refreshing to see an exercise in artistic self-indulgence rather than mindless Hollywood schlock. While it shows some promise in young, honest talent, both the writer and director have growing to do.



Crime Fiction

Facts and Figures

Run time: 90 mins

In Theaters: Monday 1st January 2007

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5

IMDB: 4.9 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Will Slocombe

Producer: Graham Ballou

Starring: Jonathan Eliot as James Cooper, Christian Stolte as Don Lee Boone, as Hilary, as Komissarzhevsky, Katrina Lenk as Lauren

Also starring:

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