Boogie Woogie -- Film Review



Unless it comes as a major surprise that the denizens of the modern art world are greedy, superficial, self-absorbed, overly sexed and pretentious, "Boogie Woogie" is not likely to provide any fresh perspectives.

This comedy centering on the contemporary art scene in London and adapted by Danny Moynihan from his novel (which was set in New York) aims for a high level of complicated satire but falls short.

A fine cast has been assembled by director Duncan Ward for this would-be Altman-esque ensemble piece. The plot revolves around the efforts of unsavory art dealer Art Spindle (Danny Huston) to acquire the Mondrian painting that gives the film its title, owned by an elderly collector (Christopher Lee) whose wife (Joanna Lumley) and secretary (Simon McBurney) are scheming behind his back. Rapacious collector Bob Maclestone (Stellan Skarsgard) also covets the painting and is having an affair with Spindle's comely assistant, Beth (Heather Graham), who is all too eager to betray her boss in the hopes of getting her own gallery. Meanwhile, Maclestone's unhappy wife (Gillian Anderson) is sleeping with a hot young up-and-coming artist (Jack Huston).

Other characters include a lesbian video artist (Jaime Winstone), who exploits everyone around her; her friend and manager, Dewey (Alan Cumming), probably the only sympathetic figure in the bunch; and a sexy young roller-skating girl (Amanda Seyfried) who comes to work for Spindle and quickly gets caught up in the sordid goings-on.

Watching unlikable characters doing despicable things to each other can be fun, but only if the proceedings are enlivened by a certain degree of wit or sophistication, which is not the case here. Despite the involvement of the artist provocateur Damian Hirst, credited here as "art curator" and whose name is frequently mentioned, the film doesn't really have the required authentic feel.

The episodic story line never gathers much narrative momentum, and the dialogue and characterizations rarely manage to be involving (with the exception of Graham's Beth, who reveals some surprisingly dark aspects). Performances are fine, with the intense Anderson and the enjoyably hammy Huston being the standouts of the large cast.

Opens Friday, April 23 (IFC Films)
Production: Constance Media, Firefly Films, Muse Prods., Autonomous/ Colourframe, P&C Arcade Films, S Films, Magna Films
Cast: Gillian Anderson, Alan Cummings, Heather Graham, Danny Huston, Jack Huston, Christopher Lee, Joanna Lumley, Simon McBurney, Charlotte Rampling, Amanda Seyfried, Stellan Skarsgard
Director: Duncan Ward
Screenwriter: Danny Moynihan
Producers: Danny Moynihan, Kami Naghdi, Christopher Simon, Cat Villiers
Executive producers: Christopher Figg, Rob Whitehouse, Matthew Hobbs, Valentine Stockdale, Matias Rojas, Chris Hanley, Charles Haswell, Leonid Rozhetskin, Katrine Boorman
Director of photography: John Mathieson
Editor: Kant Pan
Production designer: Caroline Grenville-Morris
Costume designer: Claire Anderson
Music: Janusz Podrazik
No rating, 94 minutes