Ariana Bernstein stars as “Guin,” a former child star now grown into a pump & narcissistic adult who still hopes to be a successful actress even though she has neither good looks nor great talent. Desperation drives Guin inevitably to reality TV, where she & the film dangle inconclusively until the final credits mercifully begin to roll.
The only bright spot in this train wreck is a supporting performance by Andrew Ruth as a guy (named, d’uh, “Guy”) who had a crush on Guin all through their teen years, when she wouldn’t give him–or his pimples–a second glance. But now the shoe is on the other foot… Ruth is charming and charismatic, and I hope someone sees him in this part and casts him soon in something better. Otherwise “fugetaboutit.” (JLH: 2/5)
Directed by Joanna Bowzer with a “screenplay by committee” team including Bowzer and Bernstein, plus Niccolo Aeed Moretti and Marina Tempelsman. Click HERE for our FF2 Haiku. NEVER TO BE SEEN BY RICH.
Review of Delusions of Guinevere by Associate Editor Brigid K. Presecky
Joanna Bowzer’s debut feature follows a former child star and her bizarre attempt to reclaim her glory days. Struggling actress “Guinevere” (Ariana Bernstein) hit stardom at a young age, acting in a commercial and famed “The Gelee Girl” before reaching puberty. No longer a thin and cute child, Guinevere (bordering age 30), can’t seem to nail an audition for anything more than a small theater role and goes to great lengths to be “famous” once again.
Act One of Bowzer’s screenplay is humorous, intelligent, and undeniably relatable. Guin acts like a typical 20-something, palling around with her “artsy” friends, babysitting her niece, and flirtting with boys at a coffee shop. (When the barista turns around and doesn’t notice Guin putting a chunk of change in the tip jar, she reaches into the money pile and it results in the painfully awkward, hilarious situation of Guin looking like a thief.) But much like Guin’s fame-seeking downward spiral, the script completely unravels by the third act. It goes from a funny, unique story about a girl finding her way into a faking-her-own-death disaster.
Guin succumbs to her jealousy after seeing former friend and Gelee-Girl co-star “Cadence Stone” (Annalaina Marks) and her beautiful body and successful career plastered over social media. In the hopes of rekindling her career, Guin attends a Gelee commercial reunion/fan event only to encounter pathetic former co-stars too delusional or drugged out to care. Unhappy Guin turns to Gelee-Jell-O shots at her surprise birthday party and, instead of being grateful for her supportive friends, spouts off hateful things about Cadence Stone in a drunken stupor. The puke-filled evening and realization that she can’t live off of residual checks prompts Guin to call up her elderly agent – a balding man, slumped in a chair, staring at 20-year-old lollipops. Bizarre. With no help from him, she decides to vent her problems to her webcam (while ungracefully chomping on cereal) and uploads the video to YouTube. And just like that – a star is reborn. But in the process of becoming an Internet sensation, oblivious Guin slowly morphs into a friendless, classless, monster of a starlet.
The story and mediocre performances aren’t strong enough to sustain the entire film. The way Bowzer stereotypes roles is extreme, particularly Guin’s cookie-cutter friends (one gay, one prim-and-proper, another opening an art gallery) and seems forced as the film drags on. Although many people now see fame and social media likes as more important than actual friends, Delusions of Guinevere goes one step too far. Not every vlogger on YouTube (not even a majority of vloggers) gain fame by chewing food and talking to the camera about nonsense. From a technical standpoint, there would have had to be some sort of redeeming quality or incident that would make Guin’s series “Breakfast with Guin” an immediate success. It may be a little harsh, but people finding Guin’s cereal chomping pleasing to watch is unrealistic.
The film had such a strong start with Guinevere, like so many people today, uncertain about her life choices. She’s lost, overweight, and acts awkwardly around boys. It’s a story people know all too well. But Bowzer takes those relatable qualities that make Guin endearing to the audience and shatters them. Although there are moments and lines of dialogue that are pure genius, funny, and spot-on, the unraveled plot makes Delusions of Guinevere miss the mark.
Review © Brigid K. Presecky (12/6/14)
Top Photo: Ariana Bernstein as new YouTube star “Guinevere”
Bottom Photo: Ariana Bernstein as “Guinevere” with her friends, racking up her YouTube hits
Photo Cred: Buddha Belly Productions
Q: Does The Delusions of Guinevere pass the Bechdel Test?
Guinevere has a close relationship with her sister “Heather” (Sandra Elizabeth Rodriguez) whose marriage is falling apart. Guin looks after her niece by picking her up from school and distracting her while yelling and screaming echoes from the other room.
Guinevere also has two female friends, artist “Lillia” (Graci Carli) and lawyer “Brianna” (Amy Halldin), who help break her out of her funk. When Guin decides to fake her own death in order to gain more publicity, her isolation and manic behavior drives Lillia, Brianna, and company to have an intervention.