FULL FRONTAL

Directed by Steven Soderbergh. USA.  2002.


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Those enticed by this film’s provocative title and expecting a salacious movie experience will be surprised to learn that this is instead a study of relationships in contemporary Los Angeles.  As a director, Steven Soderbergh tends to alternate big budget, mainstream products, such as Erin Brockovich (2000) and the remake of Ocean’s Eleven (2001), with the odd digression into low budget, experimental pieces like Schizopolis (1996) and The Limey (1999).  Superficially linked to Soderbergh’s debut feature Sex, Lies and Videotape (1989), Full Frontal focuses on a group of actors and their friends, relatives and colleagues in L.A. as they prepare to attend the party of a film producer.  As we watch the characters going about their lives, the film alternates between ‘real’ life and a movie within a movie ‘Rendezvous’, which echoes many of the characters and events that we see in the ‘real world’.

Although Full Frontal is packed with a top-notch cast (including Julia Roberts, David Duchovny, Mary McCormack, Catherine Keener, David-Hyde Pierce, Blair Underwood and the hilarious Nicky Katt), along with numerous cameos and movie in-jokes, this is not a self indulgent love letter to, or sensational expose of, Hollywood.  Instead, it’s another Soderbergh film that puts personal and professional relationships (especially marriage, a common focus of Soderbergh’s films) under the microscope.  Full Frontal is something of a companion piece to Sex, Lies and Videotape, but the difference here is Soderbergh is now the Hollywood insider, and the characters are all, in some way, linked to Hollywood.  While Full Frontal isn’t as wildly experimental as something like Schizopolis, Soderbergh still has fun playing with film and digital video formats (Soderbergh, using the pseudonym ‘Peter Andrews’ was the film’s cinematographer) and overturning narrative (specifically, romantic) storytelling conventions.

Martyn Bamber
 
 
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