I liked this movie. I really did. I rented it on a whim, because of the presence of Eliza Dushku, Terrence Stamp and yes, I admit it, even Billy Zane. This is what the producers wanted me to do-- these are the actors featured most prominently on the DVD cover art. I was suckered, which is unfortunate, but I'm not mad I watched it.
The writing, direction, production value, and make-up are nothing I can complain about--- . This is a cute idea for a story and the music is pleasant and the costuming is really great, subtly but instantly telling you someone is an ex-professor, or party animal, or all business. The actors mentioned above really came to play, making the most of dialogue that varied from mediocre to cheesy, though the cheesy can be passed off as being quoted from a manuscript that is the center of the films plot.
My lone complaint, though this is a major one, is the actress playing the lead, Cara. She's awful. Atrocious. Community Theater bad. She has one facial expression-- this goofy, awkward smile-- which goes away when she says her lines, then returns instantly. Every actor around her exudes charisma and demands your attention just by being there, but Francoise Surel (the DVD credits say she's a former make-up artist) is a blank slate, her several costume changes are more interesting than she is.
All I can think is, the director cast his girlfriend, which was unfortunate because the rest of the movie works so well around her. Ultimately it doesn't matter, because even with a skilled, experienced or interesting actress in the lead, the film still wouldn't be worthy of a theatrical release, but it was still sweet and charming nonetheless. Perhaps a subplot would have helped-- though it doesn't feel like it, the film only runs 80 minutes.
I can see the producers sitting in their office... "Wow, Terrence Stamp said yes? We're LUCKY to get Terrence Stamp. Eliza Dushku said yes? Wow, she's really popular, we're LUCKY to get Eliza Dushku. Ileana Douglas said yes? Wow, she's an indie-QUEEN, we're LUCKY to get Ileana Douglas. Now, we need to cast the romantic lead, to really bring in an audience... hmm.... do you think Francoise Surel is available?"
Yeah, she's totally some dudes girlfriend. She might be nice in real life, but on film she's just a 6-foot skinny-as-a-rail liability (with D-cups, which seems unlikely). Still, this charming, slightly predictable movie overcomes her... by a hair. It's sweet, romantic and better than whatever is on Lifetime this week.... worth a look.