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Deep characters anchor Hollywood Je T'aime
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Deep characters anchor Hollywood Je T'aime

by Nevin Jefferson - SGN Contributing Writer

Devastated by a love affair gone to hell, Jerome (Eric Debets) journeys from Paris to Los Angeles over Christmas, longing for a change of scenery and dreaming of a career in the movies. The opening scenes of the film in Paris are in black and white, and when Jerome hits Hollywood, the film changes to bright, candylike colors, like The Wizard of Oz.

Once in Hollywood, Jerome tries his best to enjoy the city, making endearing first-timer mistakes. He pisses off the cab driver and bartender by not tipping them. A bus ride to the beach takes all day, and he finds that the beach is cold. While suffering at the beach, Jerome hits it off with a Gay pot dealer (Chad Allen), who drives him halfway home. A taco-stand Tranny named Kaleesha (Diarra Kilpatrick) escorts him the rest of the way, introducing him to Norma Desire (Michael Airington), a "shabby chic" Silverlake drag queen who takes Jerome under her wing.

Director Jason Bushman's shrewd firsthand knowledge of the less glamorous side of the Hollywood merry-go-round gives a nice ride. Jerome also has a few romantic flirtations, including a sexually explicit encounter with a waiter he meets at a bathhouse.

The best part of this film is in the deep portrayal of the characters; the sad-eyed Frenchman who ends up surrounded by an exquisite cast of Hollywood's colorful, flamboyant detritus, the people who cause polite society to look the other way. They are acted out with care and detail, ensuring that each is a fully formed person, not a cardboard stereotype. Drag queen Norma (Michael Airington) is absolutely fabulous, in every form of the word. She could have so easily have become a stereotype based on either her lifestyle or her age, but Airington and the script make her brassy yet fragile, obnoxious but loveable, and bitchy while desperately loyal. She also gets some of the film's funniest lines (laughs and cheers erupted from the festival audience at her screaming "Good eyes" at a homophobic youth who quite astutely observes that, yes, she and her friends are indeed Gay) and many of its most tender moments. Chad Allen as the Gay pot dealer and Diarra Kilpatrick as Kaleesha are characters who you care about.

Support the arts by becoming a member of the Three Dollar Bill Cinema and enter to win a trip to London. The post-screening reception was held at Barrio, where the food is really good!

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