Reviews: Windsor Drive

Andrew reviews Windsor Drive, new to DVD today.

"Music too loud. Hurt ears bad!"
Surrealism in film is a tricky business.  The pioneering masters of the breakdown of logic and reason to reflect the state of mind of a character or to satirize a particular event or situation comes as natural as breathing air to the likes of Luis Bunuel, David Lynch, Alejandro Jodorowsky and David Cronenberg.  These are textbook examples of figures in film who understand the nature of surrealism and use it as a tool to drive home their greater points about experience or sociopolitical aims.  And then there are those like Crispin Glover or, God forbid, Tom Green who will try just about anything whether it’s cohesive or not. 

Enter Natalie Bible’s directorial debut Windsor Drive, an unabashed ripoff of Mulholland Drive, Maps to the Stars and inexplicably The Canyons.  The story of River Miller (Tommy O’Reilly, who looks like Billy Zane’s long lost brother), an unhinged actor on the verge of a mental breakdown, is intended as a portrait of tinseltown as a nightmarish Hell but comes across as an obnoxiously pretentious wannabe full of terrible scene chewing and one endless montage after another.

As a seasoned fan of the bizarre and otherworldly in film, I was taken aback by just how many times I threw my head back in dismay and aggravation.  Tommy O’Reilly, bless his soul, is meant to be teetering on the edge of insanity and goes for all the high notes penned by Jack Nicholson in The Shining.  He is so ridiculously over the top here that scenes intended to invoke fear instead come across as unintentionally hilarious.  The poster itself of the tuxedo suited Tommy O’Reilly screaming at the camera is just plain goofy looking and much like the overall film itself reeks to high heaven of trying too hard.  When the supporting amateurish cast, which couldn’t help but remind me of the social media casting direction behind Paul Schrader’s The Canyons, isn’t trying their best to look and sound convincing, director Natalie Bible overcompensates with fancy editing trickery that contains no artistic meaning whatsoever.  Needlessly reusing shots with vertical inversion, reverse shots, superimpositions, slow motion and frame dropping, my thoughts drifted away to John Moore’s war film Behind Enemy Lines which also utilized every cinematic trick in the book for no apparent reason. 

"I suppose now is a bad time
to ask her out on a date!"
For as hard as Windsor Drive tries to sell itself as a nightmarish odyssey into the underbelly of Hollywood, it’s a silly jumbled up mess that fails miserably.  Only 82 minutes in length, it felt like a snail paced tedious bore made by an overzealous student eager to show off her thesis during the first week of film school.  As previously mentioned, we literally get bad musical montage after bad musical montage with the same repeated bad piano cue spliced in between those scenes over and over again.  It’s kind of amazing how obnoxious every technical facet of Windsor Drive really is.  Even without the nifty editing used to cover up the paper thin story thread, the bad music and terrible acting, the central protagonist as written provides little reason to care or invest in his psychodrama.

Movies that attempt to debunk the glorious image of tinseltown obviously won’t go away anytime soon, particularly with Cronenberg’s sunlit funeral Maps to the Stars.  But if you are gonna take on the hand that feeds you, get a clue as to what you think you want to say and how to say it.  I’ve nothing positive to speak to about Windsor Drive, one of the most annoying and idiotic films of the year!


-Andrew Kotwicki

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