Treatment: Tribeca Review

Overly familiar satire about wannabe filmmakers falls flat.

Joshua Leonard plays an aspiring screenwriter who checks himself into rehab in the Tribeca film from directors Steven Schardt and Sean Nelson.

“It’s pure zeitgeist,” declares an aspiring screenwriter about his dream cinematic project in Treatment, the new comedy directed by Steven Schardt and Sean Nelson. The same, alas, cannot be said of this toothless satire -- receiving its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival -- which combines mumblecore aesthetics with self-reflexive navel gazing in an all too familiar comedic tale about wannabe filmmakers.  

Underachiever Leonard (Joshua Leonard, of The Blair Witch Project and Humpday) has written a script about a Wall Street trader who schemes to get into prison to ride out the financial crisis. What he needs is to get a big movie star linked to the project, so when he happens to meet wasted A-lister Gregg D (Ross Partidge) he comes up with a plan to check himself alongside him into a luxurious Los Angeles rehab facility and persuade him to star in the film.

Borrowing the necessary $15,000 from his creative partner (co-director and screenwriter Nelson), he manages to get himself admitted into the center run by self-help guru BZ Sullivan (Chris Caniglia), whose cheesy spiritual aphorisms are frequently displayed via intertitles.

He quickly gets more than he bargained for when he’s forced to confront his own demons via his troubled interactions with the center’s staff and his fellow patients.

Although its screenplay displays some touches of sardonic wit -- “We don’t take walk-ups,” Leonard is advised when he shows up unannounced at the facility with cash in hand -- Treatment is too slight and unfocused to have the desired satirical impact. Not helping matters are the ineffectual lead performances and the poor technical qualities -- with the exception of the lively musical score by Robyn Hitchcock, who also shows up in an amusing cameo as a daffy musician.

Venue: Tribeca Film Festival (Submarine Entertainment)
Production: Like a Man Films
Cast: Joshua Leonard, Sean Nelson, Ross Partridge, Brie Larson, Jessica Makinson, Chris Caniglia, John Hodgman
Directors: Steven Schardt, Sean Nelson
Screenwriter: Sean Nelson
Producers: Jennifer Maas, Steven Schardt
Executive producers: Adrian Ashkenazy, Stefan Ashkenazy
Director of photography: Benjamin Kasulke
Editors: Sean Donavan, Jessica Hernandez
Music: Robyn Hitchcock
Production design: Aiyana Trotter
Costume design: Emily Batson
No rating, 84 min

comments powered by Disqus