Acting, starring and written by Laurie Simmons, My Art feels like a rich person’s vanity project.
Simmons plays a version of herself called Ellie; an artist who spends the summer at her friends house in the country to work. While there she befriends two out of work actors and an ageing lawyer to help her with DIY art videos that recreate old Hollywood films.
What quickly becomes apparent when watching My Art is that it’s flat in just about every conceivable way. The film is shot seemingly without interest or energy. On an emotional level it doesn’t register at all. The moments that are clearly telegraphed as comedy fall far short, and the timing and performances are so ineptly handled that they don’t even prompt cringes. Just boredom. For instance, Ellie (Simmons) is dancing by herself and is caught by one of her actors, Frank (Clohessy). The humour should come from her embarrassment, but since that emotion isn’t conveyed clearly, the joke doesn’t land and we, the viewer, are stuck in the awkward silence.
Apparently, Simmons wanted the film to portray female artists through her perspective, but she yields no insights. Ellie is about as neutral as you can get. The only characters that can elicit a flicker of interest are the men who help Ellie with her videos, and one of their wives played by Parker Posey. However, as Ellie drops them from her life once she’s finished using them, they disappear from the narrative all together. Each one of them has a sliver of backstory and they never get developed. Poor.
It’s actually difficult to write this review because there’s so little here to discuss. My Art is a great tub of flavourless paste made with a minimal amount of effort. In every scene it’s clear which feeling Simmons is trying to evoke, so it’s all the more frustrating that she fails in every attempt.
CAST: Laurie Simmons, Lena Dunham, Barbara Sukowa, Robert Clohessy, John Rothman
DIRECTOR: Laurie Simmons
WRITER: Laurie Simmons
SYNOPSIS: A 65-year-old single artist (Simmons) living in New York City has a good life: a stable teaching job, successful friends, and a loyal, aging dog named Bing. As her dream of a respectable place in the art world becomes more elusive, her frustration with her lack of recognition feels alarmingly urgent.