Park City: Independent Film Review
Posted on May 2, 2015
Murphy’s Law says anything that can go wrong will go wrong. And it does for the filmmakers of Hearts & Cash when they lose the only print of their film just hours before its premier screening at Sundance.
Hannah Rosner’s debut feature is a ‘making-of’ mockumentary that combines an optimistic road trip with chaotic amnesiac comedy. Think Little Miss Sunshine meets The Hangover. The road trip portion of Park City – which consumes about a third – even takes us to Vegas, the stag-party homeland of its blockbuster counterpart. Setting up its characters as exuberant young creatives struggling to find their way into an exclusive industry, the road trip paves the way for the drunken mistakes that will eventually put Hearts & Cash in jeopardy. With expectations of Sundance ridiculously disproportionate to reality, it’s easy to empathise with these flawed but hopeful filmmakers.
“Park City attempts a shrewd deconstruction of the movie business”
They are themselves cookie-cutter industry clichés: there’s the diva actress (Jill Evyn), the sensitive auteur (Joseph Mireles), the stoner hanger-on (David Hoffman) and the ambitious producer who’s keeping it all together (Hannah Rosner). Predictable choices perhaps, but purposeful ones. Park City attempts a shrewd deconstruction of the movie business: its stereotypes, its appearance to outsiders and the frictions between those involved in film production. It’s an ambitious target but one which Park City largely hits. Pretentious parties and industry professionals willing to trade sex for prospects are familiar but similarly tongue in cheek.
Self-referencing is a booming Hollywood trope (acclaimed in Birdman and hilarious in the blockbusters of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller from 22 Jump Street to The Lego Movie). In the interview scenes which punctuate Park City, the filmmakers could easily be describing themselves and the frequently blurred line between fiction and reality contributes significantly to Park City’s charm.
“The frequently blurred line between fiction and reality contributes significantly to Park City’s charm”
Unsurprisingly, Rosner’s film is a pro-indie, anti-blockbuster affair, cleverly masking its variable sound work and budget equipment in home-made documentary styling. The search for the missing film, Hearts & Cash, relies largely on flashbacks captured on phones. The device risks excessively fragmenting the film but is kept in check by largely successful and authentic comedy.
Budget constraints aside, Rosner attracts some established actors. The funniest cameo belongs to C.J. Vana (Whiplash) while Cynthia Watros (Lost, Finding Carter) and Mary Birdsong (Reno 911!) also make brief appearances. Yet it’s relative newcomer Jill Evyn who steals the show. Her spoilt, desperate and narcissistic actress is too flamboyant and entertaining to ever risk derailing our sympathies.
Hearts & Cash might be struck down by Murphy’s Law but the funny and endearing Park City deserves a more auspicious future.
Park City is available to download on iTunes now.
Keep up date with Park City screenings on the official website here and watch the trailer below.