Meet Monica Velour: Film Review

It becomes apparent that Monica's best days are behind her


It's easy to see what attracted Kim Cattrall to the title role of Meet Monica Velour, Keith Bearden's slight but ingratiating debut feature that received its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival.

Sex might figure in this character's life as prominently as it does for the actress' iconic Samantha Jones in Sex and the City, but the similarities pretty much end there.

Monica is a former porn star from the 1980s who has become an object of obsession for geeky 18-year-old Tobe (Dustin Ingram). When he finds out that she's making a rare live appearance at an Indiana strip club, he sets out in his vintage hot-dog truck to finally meet the woman of his dreams, albeit one who is a good three decades older.

It becomes apparent that Monica's best days are behind her. Blowsy and past her prime, she's divorced and living alone in a trailer park while desperately seeking to get custody of her daughter from her estranged ex.

When Tobe gets pummeled in an altercation with two of Monica's less appreciative audience members, she takes pity on him and brings him home. They develop an unlikely friendship, complicated by the smitten young man's desperate attempts to convince the wary Monica that he's a suitable romantic partner.

Better than its premise would suggest, the film works to the degree that it does thanks to the well-drawn characterizations and the frequent doses of sly, subtle humor. The effectively deglamorized Cattrall is terrific, investing her portrayal with a complex mixture of vulnerability, toughness and still-powerful sexuality. Newcomer Ingram also is fine; despite the character's unfortunate resemblance to Napoleon Dynamite, his Tobe is appealingly eccentric without lapsing into stereotype.

Fine comic turns also are provided by the supporting players, including Brian Dennehy as Tobe's tart grandfather with an aversion to wearing too much clothing, Keith David as an avid collector of kitsch who offers Tobe some much-needed advice and Elizabeth Wright Shapiro as a low-rent stripper named Snickers.

Venue: Tribeca Film Festival
Production: Gilbert Films
Cast: Kim Cattrall, Dustin Ingram, Brian Dennehy, Keith David, Sam McMurray, Tony Cox, Jee Young Han, Daniel Yelsky
Director-screenwriter: Keith Bearden
Producers: Gary Gilbert, Jordan Horowitz
Director of photography: Masanobu Takayanagi
Production designer: Lou A. Trabbie III
Editor: Naomi Geraghty
Costume designer: Rebecca Bentjen
Music: Andrew Hollander
No rating, 97 minutes