City Baby: Film Review
Aspiring actresses and aging rockers figure prominently in David F. Morgan's Portland-set feature debut.
If coming-of-age stories used to be about teenagers, today’s culture of twentysomethings stuck in a perpetual sexed-up adolescence mandates something on the order of City Baby, David F. Morgan’s feature debut that recently received its world premiere at Cinequest. This pungent, Portland, Oregon-set tale features a striking performance by Cora Benesh as Cloey, a 25-year-old aspiring actress facing a turning point in her life.
Freewheeling party girl Cloey is comfortably living off her daddy’s (Daniel Baldwin) money, ignoring his entreaties to get a job and pursuing her acting career while living with her aging rocker boyfriend Jesse (Andrew Harris). She’s just landed a role in a new play, as a gay teenage boy.
“It’s a comment on gender and sexuality,” she half-heartedly explains.
When Jesse fails to even show up on opening night, the dejected Cloey follows through on a flirtation with Michael (Richard Keith), a yuppie ad exec who’s been wooing her ever since she auditioned for a commercial. Meanwhile, her best friend Paige (a very effective Jillian Leigh) is planning to move to New York City to pursue a fashion career, and implores Cloey to join her.
While the romantic triangle plot line is fairly mundane, the film co-written by Morgan and Benesh fully succeeds in evoking its hipster milieu. Taking full advantage of its extensive Portland locations—“I love being damp 250 days a year,” one character bitterly observes—it also effectively captures the city’s independent rock scene via performances from several of its notable bands and an amusing cameo by Stephen Malkmus of Pavement.
Commenting on his landmark band’s heralded reunion tour, Malkmus cynically observes that he’s “trying to cash in on what once was…maybe buy a Jag.”
Not to be too cynical about it either, the film’s commercial prospects are bound to be enhanced by the copious doses of nudity sprinkled throughout, not to mention a steamy tryst between the sexy Cloey and a female photographer who entices her to shed her clothes during a photo shoot.
Production: Salad Days Productions
Cast: Cora Benesh, Jillian Leigh, Andrew Harris, Richard Keith, Dustin Rush, Daniel Baldwin
Director/editor: David F. Morgan
Screenwriters: David F. Morgan, Cora Benesh
Producers: Steven Arychuk, Cora Benesh, Dennis Fitzgerald, Tara Johnson-Medinger, David F. Morgan, Mark Roush, Tim Whitcomb
Director of photography: Bryce Fortner
Production designer: Micaela Works
Costume designer: Monika Schmidt
Not rated, 98 min.