Fantastic Fest: ‘An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn’ is a Movie You Won’t Soon Forget, for Better or Worse
Jim Hoskings’ An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn is a screwball comedy that throws the criminal ineptitude of Fargo and the absurdity of David Lynch’s work into a blender with the lid off, splattering into a kaleidoscopic blend of deadpan insanity and infectious fun. Filled with half-baked schemes, intentionally(?) bad acting and cringe-worthy dialogue (not to mention ridiculous Scottish folk singing), it is a voyage of ludicrous folly that will have you laughing and then laughing at how you could possibly be laughing.
The story begins with barista Lulu Danger (played by Aubrey Plaza, whose signature deadpan glare could give Wednesday Addams and Daria Morgendorffer a run for their money) being fired by her boss/husband Shane, portrayed by Emile Hirsch in a bizarre cartoonish blend of Leonardo DiCaprio and Jack Black that I never realized I needed in my life. After Shane Danger learns that his wife’s vegan brother Adjay has a large sum of money in a cash box at his store, his pride and greed cannot handle it and he enlists two of his employees to join him in a ridiculous heist involving unconvincing disguises. Despite their idiocy, they manage to take the box, causing Adjay to agree to hire a stranger in a laundromat, Colin (Jermaine Clement of Flight of the Conchords), to rough up Shane and get the money back. However, the bad-haired hired hand is just as inept as the robbers and ends up being taken hostage by a fed up Lulu. Soon, the strangers are holed up in a hotel while Lulu finds a way to see the eponymous Beverly Luff Linn.
Luff Linn is played by Craig Robinson, who has all the articulateness of Frankenstein’s monster. Yet, he seems to have cultivated a large following of adoring fans, especially Lulu. It is apparent that they have a romantic history that Lulu is interested in reigniting. Beverly’s partner Rodney (Matt Berry) is determined to keep Lulu and Beverly apart and Colin slowly reveals that he just a dimwit with a soft side and eyes for Lulu.
The film feels like an odd blend of Lynchian melodrama and nonsensical interactions that transcend any normal human behavior. The humor consists of long drawn out moments of uncomfortable awkwardness to the point where you are squirming in your seat until you find yourself laughing just to break the tension. Director Hoskings is best known for directing The Greasy Strangler, an indie film that had many people talking about its over-the-top disgusting antics, and is often compared to the work of John Waters. While this film may be more palatable for mainstream audiences, it will still struggle to land jokes with a majority of viewers. The acting is so over-the-top and seemingly amateurish which must be intentional considering the line-up of seasoned actors with comedic backgrounds. Some people may find it wildly entertaining while others may find it off-putting. Forcing a “so-bad-its-good” label on your film is a lot like trying to give yourself a nickname. It has to be done naturally by other people.
Prepare to spend the majority of the film with a “what the…?” expression on your face. But between those expressions, you’ll be laughing out loud. Plaza delivers a straight-faced performance fit for a telenovela as our lovelorn protagonist. Emile Hirsch by far gives the most farcical performance as the mobster-wannabe husband that audiences will love or hate but will certainly remember. That feeling can easily describe the entirety of An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn — regardless if love it or hate it, you will definitely remember it.
Fantastic Fest runs September 20 – September 27. Visit the official website for more information.