Hollywood, je t'aime -- Film Review

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Many movies from "Roman Holiday" to "Lost in Translation" have celebrated the therapeutic value of a holiday in far-off places. Writer-director Jason Bushman offers a low-budget gay variation on the theme in "Hollywood, Je T'aime," which recently screened at the Los Angeles Film Festival.

Bruised by a love affair gone sour, Jerome (Eric Debets) journeys from Paris to Los Angeles over Christmas, longing for a change of scenery and dreaming of a career in the movies. Although this fish-out-of-water story doesn't always achieve the effervescence it's aiming for, it has enough pleasing vignettes to win us over.

The opening scenes in Paris are filmed in black and white and have the same tasty spirit as Woody Allen's many homages to Manhattan. When Jerome hits Hollywood, the film's palette changes to bright candy colors. The hapless Jerome checks into a seedy Hollywood hostel. Forced to depend on the kindness of strangers, he is lucky enough to find a bunch of benefactors who take him under their wing. Some of the characters he encounters are caricatures, but others are fresh and funny lunatics.

Jerome ends up living with a couple of temperamental transvestites in Silver Lake, and he also finds a friendly pot dealer (warmly played by Chad Allen) at the beach. One of the movie's jokes is that Jerome travels everywhere in car-crazed Los Angeles by bus. Somehow he survives. The drug dealer introduces Jerome to a commercial agent, who sends him out on a couple of interviews. The scenes showing the audition process are the comic highlights of the movie, demonstrating Bushman's shrewd firsthand knowledge of the less glamorous side of the Hollywood merry-go-round.

Although he pursues his dreams of stardom, Jerome also has a few romantic flirtations, including a sexually explicit encounter with a waiter he meets at a bath house. But Jerome is still mooning over his Parisian boyfriend, who keeps appearing in his dreams. It's a little hard to understand Jerome's obsession with Gilles, who never seems like much of a catch. Allen makes a more seductive romantic prospect, while Diarra Kilpatrick and Michael Airington as his tranny roommates also give adept performances. Lead actor Debets has an appealing deadpan presence.

Technical credits are minimalist, but somehow the film manages to capture the spirit of Paris and Los Angeles.

Venue: Los Angeles Film Festival
Production: Lightfoot Prods.
Cast: Eric Debets, Chad Allen, Diarra Kilpatrick, Michael Airington, Jonathan Blanc, Scott Romstadt
Director-screenwriter: Jason Bushman
Producer: Charles Herman-Wurmfeld
Director of photography: Alison Kelly
Production designer: Michael Fitzgerald
Music: Timo Chen
Costume designer: Kari Cassellius
Editor: Phillip J. Bartell
No MPAA rating, 95 minute