Stuck in distribution limbo for over two years, Adam Goldberg's sophomore feature finally squeaks into American theatres, one at a time, before heading straight to video.
I Love Your Work is about Hollywood actor Gray Evans (Goldberg pal Giovanni Ribisi), whose private life is crumbling. Regretting his lifeless marriage to a famous actress (Run Lola Run's Franka Potente), Evans is haunted by the memories of the girl he left behind (Christina Ricci) when he became a big star.
Soon Evans begins to fixate on the cute young couple who run a local video store, whose happy, carefree marriage reminds him of his pre-fame days. The plot thickens as Evans slowly insinuates himself into their lives, but while Goldberg is adept at capturing the smoky, whirlwind milieu of young movie stars - no doubt drawing from his own experiences as a somewhat-famous actor - his film starts to fall apart as he delves into his hero's twisted psyche.
Several early scenes shed light on the shallow, tiring, cigarette-clogged reality of most young stars' lives. Weird stalkers, boring agents bending your ear at trendy bars, petty jealousy over potential rivals for your spouse's affections: this all feels authentic. But the psychodrama that kicks in - even though it makes sense in its own way - is much less effective. Mainly because this Gray Evans character is not somebody we care enough about to be compelled by his turmoil.
The worst thing about this film, however, is Goldberg's insistence on shooting in obvious Los Angeles locations - there's no mistaking those palm trees - while pretending that he's really in Manhattan. Though they never officially name the city in which the story takes place, Gray Evans rides the (LA) subway frequently, lives in a Soho-style loft as opposed to a house in the hills, and walks the crowded city streets alone. This screams "New York" to me. (The story may have been inspired by the real-life breakup of Manhattan-dwelling actors Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman.) Perhaps Goldberg was intentionally going for a hybrid of the two cities, but it just comes across as awkward low-budget cheating.
Anyway, Goldberg and his editors exhibit a lot of style, and the cast - Ribisi in particular - is strong, but in the end, I Love Your Work isn't as interesting as it could have been, with a plodding third act that is at once confusing, rushed, and phony.