Clara Mamet makes her film directing debut with “Two-Bit Waltz,” an inconsequential, self-consciously quirky coming of age comedy from an actress-playwright testing her movie-making wings at the ripe old age of 20.
The castmember of TV’s “The Neighbors” has made the transition from playing a filmmaker in the indie enviro-terrorism drama “Night Moves” to being a writer-director. It helps that her parents are the famed playwright/filmmaker David Mamet (“Glengary Glen Ross”) and his actress wife Rebecca Pidgeon (“Heist”). Would the Kahlo-browed Miss Mamet have gotten this project off the ground without the name, the fact that mom and two other members of Dad’s rep company — William H. Macy and David Paymer — agreed to co-star in it with her? Probably not. I’ll leave that to America’s thousands of film school students and alumni to gawk in jealous disbelief as this Hollywood style nepotism takes root in one of America’s premiere theatrical families.
Mamet plays Maude, an indulged, distracted and (take her word for it) precocious child of privilege who smokes like a chimney, lost her virginity to a heel, is constantly taking “notes for my novel” and is failing at high school.
“How have you been occupying your time?”
“What you are you going to do today?”
“Not cause trouble.”
Her mom (Pidgeon) is a self-absorbed ditz, her dad (Macy) has taken to hiding under the bed, reading reading — always reading.
And “self-hating Jew” Maude is forever finding new ways to stand out in the New York private school crowd — bashing Anne Frank, for instance.
“Like she’s NOT making it up!”
Sassy, bored, urged by her more buttoned-down younger brother (Jared Gilman) to make more of herself “and not become “a filthy prostitute,” Maude is in counseling, has vividly cliched fantasies and finds an inappropriate response to every situation — from a sexual come-on, to funeral (licking her dead grandmother’s face).
It’s no surprise that a Child of Mamet should have a clever way with a line and wicked sense of when to drop some tasty profanity. But “Two-Bit Waltz” is amateur theatrics committed to celluloid, a cast of “adorable” eccentrics performing scenes with the precious, remedial chapter titles “Solitude,” “The Date,” “Suspension.”
She’s no Wes Anderson as a writer-director, no Tea Leoni as a quirky actress and whatever she got out of watching “Harold & Maude,” maybe she needs to watch it again.
Still, her rooting about finds a few laughs, more as a writer than as a performer. I’d suggest changing her name, the way Nicolas Coppola did (to Nicolas Cage). That way her fellow film school students won’t hate her so much. When she enrolls. Which she should.
MPAA Rating: R for language including a sexual reference
Cast: Clara Mamet, Rebecca Pidgeon, William H. Macy, Jared Gilman, David Paymer
Credits: Written and directed by Clara Mamet. A Monterrey Media release.
Running time: 1:19