CASTING ABOUT

NR
Reviews

Casting About, which was filmed in Berlin, Boston, Chicago, London and Los Angeles with the help of hundreds of aspirants and the ten or so casting directors who rounded them up, delivers a nonstop downpour of actresses, usually in close-up, being interviewed in a bare space for unspecified roles by two anonymous offscreen male voices. The cities aren't identified, nor usually are the actresses or the interviewers. (An occasional passing reference to "Larry" or "Barry" reveals that they are this doc's filmmakers.)

Casting About is not quite the human equivalent of showing lambs being brought to slaughter, but those viewers who tend to regard glasses half empty rather than half full will be appalled at what could pass for outright exploitation by the filmmakers. Maybe cattle is the better animal metaphor, as the film fundamentally presents a cattle call of women believing that real roles are in actual reach.

To win over the interviewers, many of the women tell personal stories about themselves or simply try to charm or convey their talent or aspirations or past experiences. Some come across as truly gifted and many have very pretty or interesting faces and winning personalities. There's the fresh-faced gal from Iowa, the exotic Iranian, the chirpy Israeli living in Berlin, and lots of blondes, including a Gwyneth Paltrow lookalike. But in their wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am approach, the filmmakers never give us a chance to know who their captives are.

Instead, one hopeful after another is brought before the camera, squirms or smiles, maybe does a monologue or maybe flirts with the unknowns behind the camera. Exposition is absent (Where are we? What's the planned film? Who are those guys behind the camera?) and titling is practically non-existent (What are the names of these women? What are the monologues they're reciting?).

Worse, the filmmakers blew a great idea. Had they not been too lazy to create some kind of arc for their non-narrative, they could have had four or five real-life Chorus Line-type stories tracking the progress of actors. There have to be plenty of compelling stories among this crowd of applicants.

An end title tells us that the feature film for which the auditions were held was never made. Well, excuse us, but it has! The filmmakers might have fooled the 350 hopefuls, but they didn't fool us.