Oh joy. Another movie about how tough it is to be famous, rich and liked.
Actor/director Adam Goldberg's "I Love Your Work" attempts to tackle that subject, but the "poor little rich actor" storyline merely ends up feeling self-indulgent and whiny. Several of the actors are talented, but most of them -- except for star Giovanni Ribisi -- are misused.
Gray Evans (Giovanni Ribisi) is famous, rich and miserable. He married Mia (Franka Potente) after seeing her in a French film, but their marriage is crumbling because he thinks she's cheating with Elvis Costello, who is friendly with Mia. Distraught, Gray ends up in a video store, where he becomes fascinated with a young video store clerk (Joshua Jackson) and his loving girlfriend (Marisa Coughlan).
As his sanity begins to crumble, Gray stalks the couple, and starts to have visions of an ex-girlfriend (Christina Ricci) who reminds him of a happier time. He begins to reimagine his past, pre-fame life through the clerk and girlfriend, and soon the world of sanity is beginning to fade away.
Perhaps this movie would be more palatable if it hadn't been done by an actor. In the hands of someone like Wes Anderson, this movie would have been brilliant, dark and understatedly satirical. From Goldberg, it just seems self-indulgent. It has nothing new to say, and it doesn't add any sparkle to the old stuff.
And while Goldberg tries hard to make this a dark satire, he takes his Big Message too seriously. It starts off well, with Gray teetering on the edge of insanity, and imagining that everybody is watching, touching and pursuing him. For a short time, it has the elements of a lightweight Fellini movie.
But after the first half hour, Goldberg goes wild with the camera tricks and the plot. He's trying so hard to be arty and insightful, that he ends up almost making the film a parody of itself. And not a good parody either. It aspires to be a bizarre, surrealist experience like "Mulholland Drive." But it's too unfocused and self-conscious to even come close.
It doesn't help that Gray is not somebody we're going to care about. He's egotistical, self-absorbed, suspicious and whiny. And for all his complaints about his terrible life, it never seems to cross his mind to do the obvious thing. Quit acting. Retreat from the limelight. Maybe he secretly likes complaining.
Ribisi is definitely the center of the film, and his turn as a crazed movie star is wonderfully unsettling. Yes, it really is that weird, even though Gray is such an annoying character. Potente isn't required to do much more than sit there and look glamorous, but Ricci is brilliant in her small role as Gray's nebulous ex.
If you want to see navel-gazing, then "I Love Your Work" might be the ticket. But for anyone looking for clever, ingenious, entertaining filmmaking, look for someone else's work to love.