The Muse Movie Review
Written and directed by Rufus Chaffee
2012, 80 minutes, Not Rated
Isaac Simon as Addison Taylor
Renee Miller as Frances
Mike Pfaff as Mikey
Paul Blumenfeld as Jimmy
This script is a lot like a David Mamet play: you will probably find the men despicable, but the woman are absolutely shrill harpies and/or whores. As a woman, it’s hard to look at the depiction of femininity in The Muse without taking offense. I can appreciate that the male lead needs to be swayed by a mysterious, evil woman — the Muse in question — but do all the young female characters have to be so repellant?
Not that Isaac Simon’s Addison Taylor is a blameless male god. A fading pop star, Addison’s last hit “Like a Porn Star” is working its way off the charts and he’s struggling to find a new tune to launch him back up into popularity. Problem is, he’s got no inspiration. The weight of fame and crushing pressure of success have sucked his creativity dry. The prescription pills he’s popping like candy aren’t helping. His coattail-riding friend Mikey (Mike Pfaff) encourages his life of excess since Addison is left to pick up the tab and the baggies of coke while Mikey focuses on nailing bar skanks. His agent Jimmy (Paul Blumenfeld) wants him to take it easy and make music and money like he used to. Jimmy suggests a trip out to a lake cabin he just purchased, mysteriously left vacant for 15 years...and we soon find out why.
The writing’s a bit bumpy; the decent cast has a hard time finding truth in the weaker lines and expository scenes, but there are times where they settle into a genuine groove. The plot drags. The solid, if not stale, setup takes a long time to unfold. When it finally does, it rushes through the breakthrough events without letting moments land with weight. There’s a great scene where Addison’s maternal neighbor Frances (Renee Miller) tries to warn him about the dangers of the lingering spirits in the house that just evaporates without satisfaction.
Those few things can be forgiven; even big budget production houses produce movies with these flaws. It’s the harpies and the whores I can’t forgive.
Frances is maternal...until she hits on Addison in a completely awkward and nauseating way. Then her lines hint that she was so enamored with the previous owner that she lied about what happened to Olivia, the Muse. She oscillates between being motherly and oddly sexual; it’s off-putting. Olivia’s (Marguerite Insolia) specter is murderous without reason to be. She appears, incites murder, and vanishes in a passionless monotone. The whores are given names, but one’s is never addressed, despite her having a topless sex scene. I feel like nipples should earn her a name. (According to the closing reel, it’s Katie. She’s the one who looks like a 37-year-old Ashley Tisdale.)
The closing credits are a nice cap on the story. I won’t say why so I don’t ruin the story, but it’s clever and ironic in the best way. I’m not sure it makes up for depicting men in the music industry out to be vain assholes and women to be gold-and-cocaine digging hookers, but I felt better after watching them through.
This movie needed a woman’s touch. Eleven out of the thirteen members of the creative team are men, and while I’m sure they’re not intending to appear boorish or misogynistic, they just don’t know how to mold a universally appealing story. The stereotypical “female” attributes like compassion and tenderness are even muted or removed from the male characters; Addison’s vulnerability is explored in the most superficial manner and Mikey’s concern for his close friend is never allowed to blossom. Being concerned isn’t weak; it’s human. If the characters don’t care about each other, why should we care about them either?
That being said, I really want “Like a Porn Star” to be released as a single on iTunes; I would download it tomorrow.
Video, Audio and Special Features:
Video, audio and special features will not be graded as this was a screener.