Jim Hosking’s first feature film, The Greasy Strangler, is still making an impact here at Sundance, where it premiered two years ago. Festival-goers and volunteers don bright pink ski caps with the word GREASY stitched on them. They’re appropriate attire for the women’s marches that have played a major role in this year’s and last year’s festivals. His latest entry into the festival, An Evening With Beverly Luff Linn, isn’t likely to leave such a lasting impression.
An Evening With Beverley Luff Linn starts off as absurdist comedy and gradually veers into romantic melodrama somewhere in the third act. Unfortunately, its comedy is annoying and its attempts at something more heartfelt don’t elevate the film. It does boast a wealth of comedic talent including Aubrey Plaza, Jemaine Clement, and Craig Robinson, who only speaks in ridiculous grunts and groans for most of the film. Plaza and Clement make for an effective duo with their strong sense of timing, but it’s unfortunate that they didn’t have a better narrative to play with. Credit is due to both the production and costume designers for making the most of a likely minuscule budget.
The film follows Lulu (Plaza), who is fired from her job at a local coffee shop by boss/husband Shane Danger (Emile Hirsch). Shane then steals money from Lulu’s adopted brother Adjay (Sam Dissanayake), who hires Colin (Clement) to retrieve it. Two problems quickly develop: Colin falls in love with Lulu, and Lulu learns that her ex, Beverly Luff Linn, who she previously thought was dead, is alive.
Part of the appeal of Sundance is the breadth of filmmakers and types of films it showcases. However, in a time and climate where the festival publicly and proudly claims to support diverse filmmakers and fresh talent, one wonders how such uninspiring content made it in (aside from an unfortunate legacy play). While An Evening With Beverly Luff Linn will certainly find its niche audience, I was left wondering what other (and likely better films) were left out in the cold.