thriller, 85 min­utes, not rated, 3 chiles

Pasatiempo - - RANDOM ACTS -

In this twisty psy­cho­log­i­cal thriller from ac­tressturned-di­rec­tor Sophia Takal, Anna (Halt and Catch Fire’s Macken­zie Davis) and Beth (Caitlin FitzGer­ald from Mas­ters of Sex) play as­pir­ing young ac­tresses liv­ing in Los An­ge­les who take off for a girls’ week­end in Big Sur. They quickly dis­cover that ri­valry, var­i­ous per­ceived slights, and re­pressed re­sent­ment have turned them into more fren­e­mies than friends. The film is grip­ping from start to fin­ish, thanks to jumpy edit­ing, in­tense per­for­mances, a tight script by Lawrence Michael Levine, and Michael Montes’ score, which amps up the ten­sion and dread, as the mu­sic in all good hor­ror flicks should do. This is more than a scary movie, though: It ex­plores Hol­ly­wood’s misog­yny and our ob­ses­sion with celebrity and phys­i­cal beauty. (An open­ing ti­tle card sets the tone by re­mind­ing us, “It is a woman’s birthright to be at­trac­tive and charm­ing. In a sense, it is her duty … She is the bowl of flow­ers on the table of life.”) Cin­e­matog­ra­pher Mark Schwartzbard cap­tures the feel of Big Sur’s dense coastal forests, breath­tak­ingly lush but also some­times alarm­ingly claus­tro­pho­bic. The in­flu­ence of Brian De Palma and David Lynch is clear, and like the Scream se­ries be­fore it, Al­ways Shine gen­tly pokes fun at main­stream hor­ror clichés — in par­tic­u­lar, gra­tu­itous fe­male nu­dity, which it points to without it­self re­veal­ing more than a bare back or gen­tly toned arm, even dur­ing shower scenes. The film nearly loses its way when it moves fur­ther into meta ter­ri­tory, but the con­cise story and brief run­ning time keep it on track. — Lau­rel Glad­den The Screen, 6 p.m. Fri­day, Oct. 21; 5 p.m. Satur­day, Oct. 22.

Al­ways Shine

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