The Low Life

on May 10, 1996 by Kim Williamson
   John ("Dazed and Confused's" Rory Cochrane) came to Los Angeles with high hopes of being a writer. What he found is the low life: working awful temp jobs credit card processing, apartment repair for a laggard landlord (James LeGros)--by day and at night dealing with an agonizingly friendly roommate, a farmtown cousin ("Rudy's" Sean Astin) just arrived from Modesto, Calif. John's friends are most interested in bar-hopping and scams; even John's one light of salvation, a pretty apartment resident ("Something to Talk About's" Kyra Sedgwick), seems uninterested in serious commitment.
   That the scenario fashioned by director/co-scripter George Hickenlooper ("Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse") proceeds in a loopily roundabout fashion is evidenced by the film's climax, an affecting visit by John to the grave of a character he'd shunned in life. However effective on their own terms, the comic slacker segments preceding this conclusion don't build toward it; yet the scene carries an emotional power that intimates that this relationship should have been the narrative core. Cochrane, Sedgwick and the always-cast-for-dopey LeGros are fine, but it's Astin that again shines, and it's primarily his performance that makes "The Low Life" an engaging sit. (Note: At press time, distributor I.R.S. had just entered bankruptcy and was not able to state whether it would still handle this title's release.)    Starring Rory Cochrane, Kyra Sedgwick, Sean Astin and James LeGros. Directed by George Hicken-looper. Written by George Hickenlooper and John Enborn. Produced by Donald Zuckerman. An Autumn Pictures-Hemingway/Zuckerman production; distributor to be set. Drama/comedy. Not yet rated. Running time: 96 min.
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