This review is by our guest writer, Grace.
Chris Papierniak’s debut aims to be a hard-packed punch, but rather, is a flame that burns for too long – rising, subsiding, and threatening to fizzle out if not for its core performance. The pink-tinted dream sequence that opens the film seems ill-fitting and amateur, as does the narrative that’s been almost as roughly cut as our main character. Stylistically, there’s an evident attempt to appear more “punk rock” or “grunge” than is needed, but the film is certainly not a total loss. Mackenzie Davis’ lead turn as Izzy, our anti-heroine and the pulse of the film succeeds in knowing when to charge in and when to pull back, affecting the right tones and nuances of chaos.
Izzy is a mess. Reckless and aimless, she’s destroyed nearly all relationships in her life. The rest are hanging on by thin and ragged threads. An aspiring musician, her career has fallen to the wayside after her sister – played (and for too short a time) by the brilliant Carrie Coon – leaves their duo group. Broke and scrambling for shining pieces of her past as a performer and her past relationships, she curses, yells, schemes, and hustles her way the f*ck across town. She runs blindly, headfirst into the golden streets of LA, gambling with her friends and acquaintances, most of which are fed up with her antics or are about to be pushed to their limit of patience. Izzy wants to be a scrappy little somebody, but she’s really just scrappy as she wrecks her way through the day, marked in eight chapters with a ninth following (without any spoilers) the day’s conclusion.
We meet Izzy the morning after. Confused and bedraggled, she fails to piece together the night. She knows how she got herself fired from a catering job, as evident by the wine and most likely blood-stained white suit she sports through her journey, but not much after that. After a one-night stand (with Lakeith’s Stanfield’s cameo character), Izzy slowly begins to find signs in her surroundings that point to her past. Upon discovering that an engagement party is being held that evening to celebrate her ex-boyfriend’s upcoming marriage to her ex-best friend, Izzy becomes dead-set on crashing the party. The “signs” she sees around her only increase and amplify her desperation to reclaim a love she believes is meant to be.
The themes of fate, hope, and love are intermingled as Izzy interacts with the film’s various misfits. Fate keeps her ardent belief that the universe will turn in her favor, just this once, alive while she attempts to make sense of the world around her through destiny and a mix of emotions. She fails to make sense of herself and understand that coated in nostalgia and longing, maybe things weren’t as good as we imagined them to be.
While some of the minor characters in the supporting cast prove to be shaky or pale in comparison to Davis’ electric chaos, the addition of Carrie Coon and Alia Shakwat prove to be occasional glimmers in a largely unremarkable ensemble. I only wish their cameos were more dragged out, or even better, that the trio starred in an entirely new film. Shakwat’s blank-faced quips and ease as a thieving stranger who debates with Izzy over whether or not fate exists is delightful. Even with the sparse time she’s been given onscreen, Carrie Coon shines as Izzy’s cold and estranged sister. The pair share a duet of Heaven to Betsy’s “Axemen” and while it’s worth a watch for this trio, it’s most definitely worth a watch for the siblings alone, especially as a fan of either or both actresses.
I think it goes without saying that if you enjoyed Davis in this years Tully or the highly praised “San Junipero” episode of Black Mirror, you should give her fierce and feral feature performance a try. Izzy Gets the F*ck Across Town is a watchable riot, but it’s Davis that packs the punch as opposed to the film itself.