Set in downtown New York and the suburbs of L.A., it would be difficult to come up with a more clichéd indie film than writer-director Jason Ruscio's Laura Smiles. City vs. suburbs, twenties vs. thirties, art vs. businessit's the stuff of a thousand film-school scripts. Constantly cutting between two timelines (itself an overplayed stylistic tic), the film gives us young Laura (Petra Wright), carefree and bohemian in NYC, and old Laura, hitched to an insurance salesman (Mark Derwin), collared in a turtleneck, and going crazy in present-day L.A. Young Laura meets the perfect guy (Kip Pardue), a charming novelist who asks her to marry him, then gets run over by a truck. Ten years later, Laura still can't forget him, and she works out her grief by cheating on her husband (more originality!) with anything that moves. None of which is to say that Laura Smiles had to be a bad movie. Stylish, low-budget indies thrive on redeeming the clichés of everyday life. But that takes smart writing and sharp humor, of which Laura Smiles has none.
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