Marlene Rhein’s Self-Involved Big Shot-Caller


Marlene Rhein’s limp, self-mythologizing debut was “inspired by true events,” the opening credit boldly shimmers, as if trying to deepen its significance. Casting her dweeby, severely-nearsighted salsa dancing sibling as a dramatized version of himself, Rhein—who directed Amy Winehouse’s “Fuck Me Pumps” video and Tupac’s last—has made an overaffected, preachy drama starring brother David as a milquetoast, creepily asexual accountant whose real-life ocular disorder causes his iris-less eyes to shake uncontrollably, sometimes getting him mistaken for a junkie. Rhein plays the sanctimonious sister he obviously looks up to, a house-dancing party girl (basically a silly excuse for Rhein to bust a move on-screen) who instructs him to go with God (the “big shot-caller” of the title) and follow his childhood dreams, which involve an obsession with Strictly Ballroom. Thus, he gets his groove back by practicing in montage, preposterously scoring with as many hot women as Eric Schaeffer does in his movies/mind, and becoming “the mambo king who never was,” or so a wizened Spanish voiceover tells us. You have to wonder about a debut this self-involved: What’s left for the second film?