Not every film that’s all about a menage a trois aims to be the next “Jules et Jim.”
Some have a hint of “Summer Lovers” or “Y Tu Mama Tambien” about them, and so go for playful “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” touches.
But when they’re shot in black and white and when the story is bathed in poetically pretentious French voice over narration, you know somebody fell in love with the François Truffaut classic.
So, cinematographer Svetlana Cvetko (“Red Army,” “All Things Must Pass” and “O.J.: Made in America”) — “Show Me What You Got.“
She co-wrote and directed this Gen Z romance of three free spirits who meet, hook up and take “group hug” to the next level in Los Angeles. It’s a lovely, somewhat empty affair, crowned as it is with that French narration that underscores the events, actions and thoughts of those we see on screen.
Marcello (Mattia Minasi) is a vapid Italian pretty boy, son of a soap star and in Los Angeles on Daddy’s credit card to get away from a clingy girlfriend. Dad arranges all these meetings with agents and deal-makers, pitching reality series and the like at the kid. But the tantrum-tossing “freeloader” can’t be bothered to show up for all of them.
“Life is all about good times,” is his credo, as related by our French femme narrator.
Nassim (Neyssan Falahi) is a Franco-Iranian/American hipster hunk Marcello meets on the Malibu pier. Nassim is a martial artist and workout coach and would-be/might-be actor. He’s getting nowhere.
“He realizes that LA wouldn’t notice if he was gone,” the narrator reveals.
They strike up a conversation, as young guys do, and do a little mock sparring, as young guys only in the movies do. That’s how they end up in the Back on the Beach Cafe, spilling ice on waitress Cristina (Cristina Rambaldi).
She flirts and bats her eyes, “curious if they will follow her blindly” into the LA evening. Damned if they don’t, which is convenient because Marcello has a rented SUV and the credit cards that will finance their adventures and coming love affair.
Cristina has been sleeping under her grandpa’s bed at the nursing home, and he’s just died. Nassim has been couch-surfing.
Marcello isn’t just attractive to them both. He’s loaded. So they’re off, seeing the city, visiting an art installation at Joshua Tree and sharing a bed, shower or what have you whenever the opportunity arises.
The two guys are lumps — aimless Marcello, barked at by his fed-up parents, gig economy Nassim urged home to Tehran by family. Cristina is a classic LA “type.” She rescues dogs and discarded house plants, goes to all the right protest marches, makes art and takes photos “to show my grandpa” what she’s doing and who she’s with — even though he’s dead.
There’s enough here for a movie, but just barely — three young people with nothing tying them down seeking “life filled with support and no judgement.”
But we know that “their bliss can continue, if only for a short time more.” Because the narrator says so. That narrator just won’t shut up.
The experienced but undiscovered cast is interesting, but the characters barely have enough going on to draw us in. The situations — save for their Joshua Tree jaunt — are trite and barely hold the attention. The friction that creates drama is generally on the other end of a phone line — Nassim and Marcello each hearing from parents who want/need them to do something with their lives, preferably someplace other than Los Angeles. The three lovers? They get along, seemingly without jealousy.
It’s all lovely to look at, as you’d expect from a movie directed by a camera operator/DP. But it has all the nutritional value of an orchid blossom.
That makes “Show Me” a film festival movie, the sort of thin entertainment that only warrants attention in that rarefied air. Anything narrated in French passes muster with that crowd, no matter how pretentious or trivial. But outside that environment, in the harsh light of day, this hothouse flower wilts.
MPA Rating: unrated, nudity, sex, profanity, marijuana use
Cast: Cristina Rambaldi, Neyssan Falahi, Mattia Minasi
Credits: Directed by Svetlana Cvetko, script by Svetlana Cvetko, David Scott Smith. A Level Forward/Synkronized release.
Running time: 1:38