Strutter: Munich Film Review

This comedy about musicians in Los Angeles is often hilarious and entertaining throughout, but might be too retro for its own good.

Directors Allison Anders and Kurt Voss' drama follows a L.A. rocker who loses both his band and his girl.

That being in a band is like being in a relationship is a point that Allison Anders’ and Kurt VossStrutter makes very early and very clearly when rock-singer Brett (Flannery Lunsford) is left by his girlfriend, only to find out that his band is also falling apart. Left without a muse and fearing the loss of his creative outlet, he now goes on a romp throughout Los Angeles and its environs, trying to find meaning when all he needs to do is to let go of the past.

This turns out not to be all that easy, but Anders and Voss, who have previously collaborated on music-themed films Border Radio and Sugar Town, make it highly entertaining.

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Commercial prospects will be slim, though, mostly due to nostalgic touches that will delight the 30+ generation, but make the film almost inaccessible to the Miley Cyrus demographic – leaving festivals and limited runs in urban markets as the only likely theatrical outlets.

Though set in the present, Strutter bends over backwards not too come across as too current: shot in crisp black-and-white by Voss himself, the film rarely features a cell phone, and shows areas of Los Angeles that must have “clunkers-only” permits, as nary a car seems to have come off the production line in the last twenty years. This makes for an interesting effect and adds – after one has overcome an initial moment of confusion – enormously to the viewing pleasure, since it gives the film a look and feel that is more cinematic and controlled than any attempt at capturing time and place could have been on a small budget.

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Anders and Voss are greatly helped in their effort by a fresh-faced and talented cast, led by Lunsford, whose quiet desperation always has the undertones of a guy almost ready to explode, with Elyse Hollander and Sara Ashley delivering charming supporting turns as friends trying to keep him just on the right side of crazy. The most interesting casting choice might be an omission, though: Brett’s ex-girlfriend Justine, who is constantly talked about and referred to as “very hot”, is never seen – giving her character the kind of presence that an actual actress would have been hard-pressed to create.

Chris Figler’s and Aaron Rottingham’s snappy editing moves the film along at a crisp pace, as does J. Mascis’ music.      

Venue: Munich International Film Festival
Production company: French Fan Club Films
Cast: Flannery Lunsford, Dante Aliano-White, Elyse Hollander, Sara Ashley, Victoria Williams
Directors: Allison Anders, Kurt Voss
Screenwriter: Allison Anders, Kurt Voss
Producers: Allison Anders, Kurt Voss
Director of photography: Kurt Voss
Editor: Chris Figler, Aaron Rottinghaus
Music: J. Mascis
Sales agent: open
No rating, 86 minutes.