A highly stylized collage of reenactments, home-movie footage, fanciful animation and self-conscious digressions, Iranian-American indie filmmaker Caveh Zahedi's semiautobiographical, ruefully comic account of his longtime addiction to hookers and the havoc it wrought on his personal life begins as he's about to get married for the third time. Zahedi faces the camera and says with a nervous smile that it all began in 1984, when he went to Paris with his wife Caroline (played by French adult-movie actress Rebecca Lord). Oh, except that it didn't actually begin then, he confesses, launching into one of many detours to explore some bit of backstory too rich not to share, including the tale of how the role of his wife came to be played by a porn star. The story actually began several years earlier in college, when he met his soul mate, Anna (Lindsey Tjian), and destroyed their relationship by simultaneously dating Caroline and badgering Anna with philosophical justifications. Monogamy, he says earnestly, is a form of ownership that commodifies and debases real love, while jealously is a character failing to be transcended. Anna's heart isn't in the attempt to emulate Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, and when she tells him to choose, he chooses Caroline but puts her through the emotional wringer by trying to win back Anna through long, intense phone calls while Caroline listens tearfully. Zahedi becomes entranced by the prostitutes he sees plying their wares on the Paris streets and, in the name of complete personal honesty, tells Caroline all about his fixation. As their marriage crumbles, Zahedi moves back to the U.S. to attend film school and Caroline leaves him for one of his friends, after which he embarks on a series of relationships. He drives fellow film student Christa (Emily Morse) to an affair and free-spirited festival programmer Devin (Amanda Henderson) to drink, discovers sex-addicts anonymous, enters into another failed marriage, and eventually gets his act together enough to maintain a relationship. Zahedi, whose sad-sack persona is defined by failure to succeed in filmmaking, to have a healthy relationship with a woman, to overcome his self-destructive compulsions has been compared to Woody Allen, and he shares Allen's neurotic sense of entitlement and navel-gazing fascination with his own sexual peccadilloes. Whether you find either man funny or infuriating depends in large part on whether you identify more with their narcissistic quests for self-knowledge or the collateral damage left in their wakes.
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- Released: 2005
- Rating: NR
- Review: A highly stylized collage of reenactments, home-movie footage, fanciful animation and self-conscious digressions, Iranian-American indie filmmaker Caveh Zahedi's semiautobiographical, ruefully comic account of his longtime addiction to hookers and the havo… (more)