'Delusions of Guinevere': Film Review
A former child star makes an unlikely comeback in Joanna Bowzer's dark comedy
Familiar tropes involving failed show-business careers and the emptiness of Internet celebrity are trotted out in Joanna Bowzer's debut feature about a former child star fallen on hard times. Starring Ariana Bernstein (who also co-scripted and co-produced) in the title role, Delusions of Guinevere aims for hard-hitting acerbity but mainly misses the mark.
At age 29, Guinevere is living on residual checks while going on constant auditions and performing in the occasional poorly attended experimental theater production. It's a far cry from her childhood glory days, when as a nine-year-old she appeared in a series of popular television commercials for a breakfast snack called Gelee, for which she was dubbed "The Gelee Girl." Now desperately unhappy and overweight — "You got bigger," one former associate comments — she spends most of her free time trolling the Internet when not helping take care of her adoring young niece (Breanna Lakatos). Compounding her misery is the contrasting fate of her former co-star, Cadence (Annalaina Marks), whose career has blossomed.
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Things seem to turn around for Guinevere when she uploads a series of videos featuring her eating breakfast to YouTube, making her an unlikely Internet sensation. But her newfound celebrity has a dark side, especially when an unexpected turn of events reveals the depths to which she'll descend to pursue fame.
Featuring stock characters — the gay best friend, the successful lawyer sister, etc. — the film doesn't have enough of a story to sustain its feature-length running time, taking up the slack with such rambling subplots as Guinevere's interactions with her former agent and an old friend facing romantic problems. Spotting his ex's new "relationship status" on Facebook, the latter laments, "I want to break up in private."
Unconvincing in most of its plot details and featuring mostly amateurish performances and production values, the film also suffers from its unappealing lead actress who, unlike Lisa Kudrow in the similarly themed HBO series The Comeback, fails to make her character's obliviousness remotely charming. Although deserving of credit for its daring astringency, not to mention its all-female creative team, Delusions of Guinevere ultimately feels more than a little delusional itself.
Production company: Buddha Belly Productions
Cast: Ariana Bernstein, Andrew Ruth, Tom Grail, Sandra Elizabeth Rodriguez, Amy Halldin, Freddie Lee Bennett, Graci Carli, Annalaina Marks
Director: Joanna Bowzer
Screenwriters: Ariana Bernstein, Joanna Bowzer, Niccolo Aeed, Marina Tempelsman
Producers: Ariana Bernstein, Joanna Bowzer
Director of photography: Ryan Stumpe
Production designer: Kaitlyn McInnes
Costume designer: Belinda Martin
Editor: Sarah-Violet Bliss
Composer: Cheryl B. Engelhardt
No MPAA rating, 94 minutes