on October 05, 2007 by Amy Nicholson

Allan White's melodrama is submerged in the shadows of the L.A. dream factory, the soul-killing grindhouse that swallows up the naive and delusional. Heather Graham stars as Hope, a singer-songwriter whose earnest ballads and hunger for success uproot her from Cleveland to California. "This guitar will be worth a million dollars someday," she gushes, brandishing her acoustic strummer. Only at the beach, Hope meets Will (a miscast Jeremy Sisto), who promptly introduces her to heroin. Three scenes later she's a junkie waitress working the red-eye shift at the Blue Star Diner—a downturn that's yawningly predictable both to us and all of her customers.

"You came out from the Midwest somewhere?" prods a clinical Linda Hamilton. "Thought you'd hit it big, instead you hit more obstacles that you ever expected, and now you're just holding on wondering what's next?" That about sums it up, as do the gents at the next table over who've written a screenplay about a girl with stardust dreams, a drug problem and a crazy ex-boyfriend. And on this auspicious eve of Dia de los Muertos, said ex-boyfriend Will is on his way over with a gun as a bitter Hope mills about tending to her customers—taking care to interrupt the British record producer as he pitches fame and fortune to a luckier band of musicians while she weighs offers to act in nude scenes, have a foursome or become a high-class call girl.

Graham's no actress, but it's easy to buy her as a talentless and petulant blonde with big ambitions, boobs and hair. Here, she stretches her skills to the limit: She curses and gazes mournfully at her track marks. Writers Jeff Lester and Drew Pillsbury's formulaic soap opera has the makings of camp but the heart of an after-school special. A last-minute twist attempts to eek further pathos from Hope's plight, yet we'd rather watch our fallen dreamers prove they can claw their way back to solid ground. —

Distributor: Truly Indie
Cast: Heather Graham and Jeremy Sisto
Director: Alan White
Screenwriters: Drew Pillsbury
Producers: Brian R. Etting and Jerry Wayne
Genre: Dramatic thriller
Rating: R for drug use, strong sexuality, violence and pervasive language
Running time: 97 min.
Release date: October 5, 2007 NY, October 12 Austin, October 19 LA/Chi./Mpls.

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