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View Date: August 2nd, 2002

Rating: ($$$$ out of $$$$$)


David Duchovny Bill/Gus
Nicky Katt Hitler
Catherine Keener Lee
Mary McCormack Linda
David Hyde Pierce Carl
Julia Roberts Catherine/Francesca
Blair Underwood Nicholas/Calvin
Enrico Colantoni Arty/Ed
Erika Alexander Lucy
Tracy Vilar Heather

Directed by:
Steven Soderbergh 

Written by:
Coleman Hough 

Related Viewings:
Magnolia (1999)
Limey, The (1999)
Short Cuts (1993)
Player, The (1992)
Sex, Lies, and Videotape (1989)

Official Sites:

Also see my reviews at:


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full frontal

Deep down, we are really all the same.  Strip away the money, the jobs, the social status and the other material things that differentiate us, and we all basically seek the same thing; to be happy.  In Full Frontal, Steven Soderburgh’s unique follow-up to his dual commercial successes (Traffic and Erin Brockovich) Soderbergh has reached back to his roots to deliver an eclectic, humorous but realistic look at one aspect of society that most of us seem to envy.  They are the movers and shakers of the entertainment industry, they are those who directly or indirectly connected to it, and they mostly seem to reside or revolve around Southern California.  Soderbergh digs his acerbic claws into various aspects of 7 different characters as their lives intersect during one 24-hour period.  The characters are obviously connected through involvement in a faux movie called “Rendezvous” but as we will soon find out, have much more in common and may not be as together as most of us would like to think they are.

Soderbergh utilizes the never-ending spectrum of a mirror in a mirror (infinitely) to tell his multi-layered but never confusing tale.  Like a popular Fox series, Full Frontal takes place in roughly a 24-hour period in, around and even above, Los Angeles.  We are first introduced to each of the characters, who are linked through a movie called Rendezvous starring Underwood as a star and Roberts as a reporter.  But then we are shown their lives with the camera off.  Along with them, we are shown the co-writers of the movie, Enrico Colatoni (TV’s Just Shoot Me) who runs a performance art theater currently playing The Sound and The Fuhrer regaling Hitler’s (a side-splitting, mustache obsessed Nicky Katt) conversations with his therapist.  Hang on, it gets bumpier from here.  Hyde-Pierce is the other co-writer and he is married to Keener, who is a bored HR director who develops new ways to interrogate employees.  Keener’s sister, McCormack, is a love-starved masseuse who is planning a “rendezvous” with an online love interest (see above theater manager).  It all comes full circle; all runs parallel, concurrently, yet revelatory and insightful as it progresses along. There are a few cameos, some funny, others giving you that sense of a-ha!!  We ride along as Soderbergh keeps twisting, folding, revealing and pulling the curtain back several times, but always sensibly.  The multiple realities bring into question the ever-blurring line between what is real and what is false or created for entertainment purposes.  With the success of reality-based television recently, several movies, from 15 Minutes to Series 7, have taken this perspective.  But Soderbergh uses his deft touch and ability to show us layered characters at odds with something, to effectively lambaste, yet pay tribute to the medium, which has given him life.

As far as performances go, what really standout are the cameos, more than the leads.  The most delightful one is Terrence Stamp (Soderbergh’s The Limey) recreating his character and showing an intersection of lives and such ala Kevin Smith or Stephen King.  Pitt, whom Pierce’s magazine has an almost unhealthy obsession with, seems to be reveling in his brief appearances and delights in skewering his own Hollywood-created, tabloid fodder.   Keener seems to live for this kind of roles and doesn’t disappoint this time either.  Each role seems expressly written for her, exposing differing sides of her abilities.  The way she expresses her displeasure for her job and life by firing an inflatable globe at soon-to-be fired employees, then quizzing them on African countries, is pure delight and could only be pulled off by her.  Underwood, McCormack and Pierce also show new aspects of their repertoire, especially McCormack who truly seems like a lonely soul amidst a city full of empty ones.  Almost stealing the show though is Katt, as Colantoni’s mustache-obsessed Hitler with issues.  The way he carries on a normal conversation as break dancing SS soldiers practice behind him is truly unimaginable and hilarious.  Shot on an 18-day schedule, with the oddest list of requirements for each cast member, Frontal lets the performers relax and have fun, not knowing when the camera is on them.  This exposes and shows us the true side of a world that seems a lot more glamorous than it actually is.

Ultimately, Full Frontal is a scathingly humorous homage to the self-servient, self-absorbed idols that we all envy.  It is a true movie lover’s movie, with small homage’s to Soderbergh, and some of the other cast members, previous work.  There seems to be a theme this year of movies about the exploration and search for happiness, as we see others who seem to be.  Frontal, along with 13 Conversations and Sidewalks of New York all take differing approaches but all seem to have the same thing at heart.  While the humor may go over some heads, and the prevailing attitude may seem egotistical in nature and delivery, the films intentions are truly noble and fun-loving, while being painfully honest at the same time.  Soderbergh returns to his roots, filming portions on digital film, and others on regular film, and shows that he hasn’t lost the voyeur/auteur touches that sex, lies and videotape showed 13 years ago.  I’ve often said that there is a fine line between egotism and self-confidence.  With Full Frontal, Soderbergh shows that his ego over his commercial success has not tainted his perspective, but his confidence in what he has learned on his way there, shines through like a flashlight in society’s eyes.

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