Director: Adam Goldberg
Cinematography: Mark Putnam
Starring: Giovanni Ribisi, Franka Potente, Joshua Jackson, Christina Ricci
Studio info: ThinkFilm, 104 minutes
Promising but overwrought drama buries its characters in self-conscious style
I Love Your Work—directed, produced, co-written and co-scored by Adam Goldberg (Saving Private Ryan)—is so laden with movie references and in-jokes that it seems designed primarily to impress. Giovanni Ribisi plays a famous actor obsessed with a woman from his past and increasingly disillusioned by the superficialities of his life. He’s also an amateur photographer, which allows Goldberg to introduce elements of Rear Window and Blow Up, stirring them together with paranoia from The Conversation, Raging Bull and The Limey. These are all worthy models but each one was made by a filmmaker at the height of his abilities, directors working with a stylistic rigor that is, for now, beyond Goldberg’s grasp.
The movie also calls to mind Paul Auster’s New York novel Ghosts in which a man spies on someone who may or may not be himself. Goldberg’s most promising constructions play the same kind of reflexive identity game.
It’s an intriguing mish-mash, a meta-textual stew Goldberg, unfortunately, paints with a big, thick brush and then underlines with fat charcoal pencils. Where Hitchcock dismantles the wall between the observer and the observed so quietly we barely realize it, Goldberg is too afraid we’ll miss something to let it go without a remark. Where Auster examines his paradox with intellectual detachment, Goldberg wants us to be moved, or at least awed, by his rich confection.
The result is a movie without a single subtle moment. Ribisi is good, but his performance is no substitute for character development. Without it, everything seems arbitrary. If we can’t get a sense of what a character is thinking, and why, even the flashiest film made by the most ambitious young director feels tedious.