Amazon Falls Katrin Bowen
Published Mar 11, 2011I get the impression that former B-movie actress turned director Katrin Bowen was deeply affected by David Lynch's Mulholland Dr., fashioning a thematically similar story about an aging cult actress with seedy lounges, palm tree horizons and a template of image versus reality breakdowns rounding things out. The main distinction is that Lynch crafted a deeply intricate, occasionally surrealist emotional journey of worldly disappointment and defeat, whereas Bowen has merely constructed another B-movie, albeit a surprisingly intriguing and intentionally campy one.
Much of the success of Amazon Falls lies on the central performance from former Miss Canada April Telek, whose initial alacrity on auditions and with fellow performer Li (Anna Mae Routledge) deteriorates into pathetic desperation and self-loathing as she gradually realizes that celebrity isn't going to happen. While she occasionally hits the mark, revealing a devastatingly fragile ego beneath the girdle, hair extensions and excess makeup, there's a lot of drag queen ham and over-the-top screeching, alluding to inconsistency and chance.
Ultimately, it does fit the aesthetic of the film, which is like a cross between the original Beverly Hills, 90210 and Baise Moi, featuring an abundance of cheap cutaways to L.A. landscapes, when not filming in awkwardly decorated locations. This incomplete, "smoke and mirrors" visage is quite fitting though, giving a sleazy, manufactured vibe to this criticism of the industry while heightening our leading lady's similarly put on mask.
It would be easy to dismiss Bowen's debut for its laughable screenplay and Littlest Hobo technical acuity, but there's more going on here than initially meets the eye. As Telek lets her guard down, crying in the restroom, repeatedly calling directors trying to blow her off and pleading for her cheating cokehead boyfriend not to leave, it's hard not to feel a pang of discomfort for the unpretentious, raw look at the embarrassing humanity beneath a big, fake smile. It also cuts beneath our cultural tendency to watch what reassures and validates our collective image ideal. (Telefilm Canada)