The California No, sadly, delivers a more interesting trailer than completed film due to an uncompelling male lead.
|Written By||Ned Ehrbar|
|Good If You Like||Generic Male Lead Attracting Far More Interesting Women|
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The California No‘s Plot (Ending on 2nd Page)
Elliott is kind of coasting through life. He is kind of a journalist, he does press junkets, but it isn’t what he is passionate about. He is a married man, but it seems the marriage was something his wife wanted, maybe for a green card, and Elliott was a decent enough guy. Yet, with learning his wife, Allison, is under the impression they are in an open marriage, and she has been seeing other people, that shatters Elliott’s world. Leading him to want someone to talk to, besides his best friend Jocko, and this leading to an awkward situation with a woman named Samantha. Then, something with a woman named Kaley.
Leaving you to wonder, considering the tailspin Elliott’s life is in, will he find stability in any aspect of his life by the time this movie is over?
It Started Off Interesting
At first, this movie seemed like it could be good. It had a nice comedic vibe, considering Allison did this whole, Basic Instinct thing in the doctor’s office (I think she was wearing underwear). Then you have Jocko, a masculine gay dude who is clearly in a ho phase, and then you add in Kaley. She is this girl who is cool messing around with a married man, and seems like someone Elliott could fall for.
Allison and Kaley
Though not focused on, as they should be, with these two are far more interesting stories than we get out of Elliott. For Allison, we have the story of an immigrant, from Great Britain, who met and got married to a man within a year. Why? Well, could it have been love, a green card, or did the need for a green card develop into love? If not a relationship of convenience?
Also, there is the need to question with Allison, when it comes to the open marriage conversation, how did it really go, since we don’t see it in the movie? For there are times when you are really left to wonder if she gave Elliott this option but never really did take it herself? That maybe she brought it up so maybe Elliott would put more effort into their relationship, maybe step up as a man and be passionate about the way he dresses, acts, even his work. I mean, there are so many unexplored layers when it comes to her character.
Same goes with Kaley. From the moment she asks about Elliott’s morals, before having sex, to her opinion you should have sex on the first date to get it out of the way and get to know a person, the way her mind works is intriguing. Leading to you wanting to know her story, as much as Allison’s. How did she end up a reality TV make-up artist? What in her allows the idea of being a man’s mistress appealing sometimes but too weird the next? Also, what did she see in Elliott? Was it just an experience to talk about in her older years or was there something there? At least until she realized why Elliott is probably having marital issues?
But Then It Became A Drama
However, then the movie switches things up and becomes a semi-serious drama. I say semi-serious for this movie doesn’t have anything which may get you in your emotions. Yes, it is sad Elliott’s marriage is in a terrible place and this comes right when his career is tanking. But, him becoming a serious Debbie Downer sucks away what felt like the film’s hook early on.
Leading to the next issue: What reason do we have to invest in Elliott? Are we supposed to feel bad for him just because he is the lead? Just because he seems like a good guy? A part of me wants to say yes but I feel like the film only did so by trying to demonize Allison. Someone who, overall, wasn’t really that bad of a person.
If anything, the problem is that Elliott is coasting through life and Allison got tired of it. Then with Kaley, I feel that we get to experience the early years of Allison’s time with Elliott. An initial interest, decent sex, but then when she really got to know him, she realized he was a good guy who lacked drive. Yet, again, possibly to stay in the US legally, she married him and hoped for the best for she really did love him. However, there came a point, almost a year ago, everything being on her, and he got to just coast a bit through life, doing press junkets he was barely invested in, dried her up. Making it so, whether she was using toys or other men, she might have needed to see what her options were
Could you blame her?
Overall: Mixed (Divisive) | Purchase or Rent On (Amazon)
The problem with this film is it gives us the generic male we see in a lot of shows and movies, and does absolutely nothing to bolster him. Oh, that is besides trying to use the women in the film to make you feel sympathy for him. Be it his wife, who could do better, or his mistress, who barely wants to be claimed by him. Making you anything but sympathetic for him but more so making you wonder why in the world was Elliott written this way? Much less, why is he the star?
Which isn’t anything on Segan but more so on how Ehrbar crafted him. Which damn near had me thinking to label this as negative. However, I will say, Mills and Hinson, while not the focus they should have been, do provide a bit of a silver lining. The kind which leaves them unscathed but definitely leaves you to think Ehrbar wheelhouse may not be writing compelling male characters.
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