Henry Jaglom’s self-financed indies are often like run-on sentences: long, rambling, noisy, aimless and unpleasantly amateurish. Ovation, his 20th feature, holds true to form, clunkily depicting a series of sketchy storylines set at an L.A. theater whose latest play (a production of The Rainmaker) is in danger of closing. The plot’s nominal focus — a term to be used very loosely here — is lead actress Maggie (Tanna Frederick), who finds herself debating whether to stick with the struggling production or take a job in TV offered by hunky small-screen star Stewart Henry (James Denton).
Swirling around them is a cast of characters dealing with love triangles, relationship abuse, economic anxieties and possible homicide, all of which is dramatized in Jaglom’s trademark improvised style. Consequently, Ovation is yet another of the director’s dramas to feature scenes that overstay their welcome and go nowhere as his characters break out in screaming, fighting, crying, laughing, kissing and anything else that his performers concoct on the spot. In its bustling, slightly batty energy, one can sense Jaglom’s genuine affection for the stage. Nonetheless, his film plays like an actors’ workshop exercise that doesn’t know when to quit, especially during appearances from a psychic whose tarot-card readings are embellished with jokey soundtrack chimes. Suffice it to say, it’s not difficult to predict this meandering mess’ fate.
Written and directed by Henry Jaglom
Opens October 7, Cinema Village