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Think quickly — who’s the flakiest person you know? Maybe it’s somebody who’s always misplacing their house keys, constantly forgetting where they parked their car or simply incapable of getting their life together. Perhaps a relative? A co-worker? A former friend now held at arm’s length?
For just about anybody who knows her, Izzy (Mackenzie Davis of Halt and Catch Fire) would be that person — someone stumbling through life seeking acceptance, but constantly creating chaos in Christian Papierniak’s dizzying mashup of frenetic visual styles and clashing narrative techniques. Even if Izzy Gets the F— Across Town at first appears to be strictly a late-night festival item, don’t be surprised to see it popping up among some streamer’s offbeat offerings at a later date.
A punk-rock singer-guitarist who hasn’t gigged in months after breaking up the band she’d formed with her estranged sister Virginia (Carrie Coon), Izzy remains totally unfocused, chronically broke and almost always a red-hot mess. So it’s no surprise that when she wakes up in a stranger’s bed hungover as hell one afternoon, with no memory of the drunken night before, and finds a Facebook post informing her that her ex-boyfriend Roger (Alex Russell) will be celebrating his engagement to her former best friend that very night, Izzy vows to crash the party and break them up.
The only problem is that she has no way to get across town to his parent’s house in Los Feliz because her lame buddy Dick (Brandon T. Jackson) still hasn’t finished repairing the car she left with him two weeks go. What’s even worse, her best friend Casey (Meghan Lennox), who’s letting Izzy temporarily crash on her couch, refuses to continue abetting her co-dependent schemes and tells her to take the bus instead.
By now you may be thinking that that by all rights, Izzy should totally be a stoner comedy, but bongs take a backseat to booze as Papierniak’s hard-luck protagonist starts in with the daytime drinking while trying to get her life in order with her dignity still intact.
Completely at loose ends, Izzy tries hitting up some random acquaintances for money, but reluctantly ends up at her sister’s place instead. Virginia is none too inclined to help out either, as Izzy attempts various forms of emotional blackmail to get permission to borrow her car. With time running out, Izzy’s desperation reaches embarrassing levels of self-abasement, but nobody appears willing to risk becoming an accomplice in her vaguely formed plan to ruin Roger’s party.
Papierniak charts Izzy’s progress across Los Angeles in a series of comic vignettes separated by chapter headings that count down the diminishing time remaining for her to launch her sneak attack. Some of these scenes feel like time-fillers, including her encounter with a middle-aged shut-in who can’t move on from her husband’s recent passing. Others brim with brilliant absurdity, such as when Izzy offers (in return for a small gratuity) to help casual acquaintance Walt (Haley Joel Osment) deal with his catastrophic Tinder hookup Agatha (Alia Shawkat), who’s passed out in his living room after an ill-fated evening of drinking.
A hard-driving punk-rock soundtrack, disorienting camera angles, split-screen techniques and candy-colored lens filters help convey the desperate impulses driving Izzy’s quest. But bewildering dream sequences and tangential flashbacks unnecessarily scramble the narrative timeline’s calculated forward momentum.
Davis seems to be down for whatever develops, however, playing Izzy with energetic animation as she bounces from one manic situation to the next. Osment and Shawkat make the most of their brief, amusingly awkward scenes, while Coon’s attempts to behave like an actual adult are skillfully undone by Izzy’s determined disorderliness.
Production companies: Amateur Detective Films, Aspire Entertainment, Mr. Groceries Productions
Cast: Mackenzie Davis, Haley Joel Osment, Alia Shawkat, Alex Russell, Carrie Coon, Rob Huebel, Brandon T. Jackson, Lakeith Stanfield, Meghan Lennox
Director-screenwriter: Christian Papierniak
Producers: Meghan Lennox, Mackenzie Davis, Melissa Panzer, Christian Papierniak
Director of photography: Alexandre Naufel
Music: Andrew Brassell
Editors: Zach Clark, Micah Stuart
Venue: Los Angeles Film Festival
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