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Cool Blue Reviews

"Is there some point to all this?" asks an exasperated character in this romantic comedy-drama. And the answer is no. An early direct-to-video movie, made in 1988 and released two years later, this misfire is notable only for featuring Woody Harrelson in his first starring role (and, to give casting director Danielle Eskinazi credit where it's due, a then-unknown Hank Azaria as the best friend). Harrelson, then co-starring in hit TV sitcom Cheers, has spoken bitterly of the film, claiming he did it for a friend's sake and regretted it. He plays Dustin, a struggling L.A. artist who, on turning 26, thinks it's time to put away the canvases. At a boho-chic local art gallery, Dustin spies the enigmatic Christiane (Ely Pouget), who leads him on a cat-and-mouse chase through funky Venice until they finally hook up — after which they really hook up in what he thinks is her place but later proves an unoccupied model apartment she broke into. Christiane actually lives with her shady boyfriend, Clayton (John Diehl), who took her in when she was a runaway and gets pissed off at her promiscuity — not so much from emotional involvement but a sense of ownership. A smitten Dustin, knowing nothing about Christiane, is nonetheless in love and searches for after she misses a promised rendezvous; he even tracks down her white-trash family and has a creepy-stranger conversation with her little sister. Dustin channels his frustration in obsessively painting Christiane, and local art aficionados are soon clamoring for his newly passionate work. He begins making money, alienates best-friend Buzz by arrogantly sleeping with a girl Buzz liked, and is invited to show his paintings in New York. Christiane, who appears to have no life outside Clayton and haunting art galleries, begins to see Dustin's images of her, and angrily appears at his door with a bucket of paint; she splashes him, saying something about him painting her so now she's painting him. She vanishes again, though ultimately — and for no discernible reason — Dustin scraps his big New York break to be with her. Badly written and clumsily directed by two 22-year-olds, this amateurish mess plods along mired in distressingly artificial buddy-dialogue, self-consciously and annoying "quirky" supporting characters and an adolescently passive-aggressive conception of women as empty-headed dream-girl sex toys. In a cameo as a philosophical madman/plumber, Sean Penn is bizarre and senseless.