TIFF Day 2 – Imogene

Read all our TIFF 2012 coverage here.

Kristen Don’t - ★½

[TIFF listing]

Directors: Robert Pulcini, Shari Springer Berman  //  Country: USA  //  2012  //  Language: English  //  Runtime:103 minutes  //  Principal Cast: Annette Bening, Matt Dillon, Darren Criss, Kristen Wiig

Husband and wife team Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini’s fourth directorial feature (American Splendor being the splash-making debut with The Nanny Diaries and The Extra Man being the more forgettable follow-ups) tries to tackle the story of Imogene (Kristen Wiig), a failed play-write in her late thirties who fakes a suicide attempt in order to get the attention of her ex-boyfriend.

Our titular character is committed to an institution where she is released under the care of her estranged mother Zelda (Annette Bening). Imogene is forced to get acquainted with her mother’s live-in lover CIA agent “The Boosh” (Matt Dillon) and the lodger Lee (Glee’s Darren Criss making his big-screen debut). Screen newcomer Christopher Fitzgerald rounds out the troop as Ralph, her troubled younger brother with a penchant for crabs and sea urchins.

Imogene was filmed in New York and New Jersey a year ago and arrives amidst minimal buzz with its main calling card being Kristen Wiig who is also the film’s executive producer. Wiig’s involvement kick-started the project 18 months ago with her star-making performance in Bridesmaids probably being the driving force behind financial backing for a script from unknown actress Michelle Morgan. But truth be told this really is a fiercely inferior beast when compared to Paul Feig’s film.

All the actors pull out decent performances but they’re held together by one of the most derivative, farcical scripts to make the screen this year. There’s next to no real character development and this is paired with countless moments of frustration that will just leave viewers scratching their heads and checking their watches. At one point Imogene sits depressed on a swing as heavy rain surrounds her, next thing you know one side of the swing breaks as she plops onto the ground. Signifying how nothing is working out for her you see. Subtle.

Wiig showed phenomenal versatility on her peak years on Saturday Night Live but now that she has left the show, she needs to start thinking outside the box and stop taking roles that are just Bridesmaids’ Annie copycats. And while Pulcini and Berman seemed like a great couple in the post-screening Q&A, you do begin to wonder if the remarkable American Splendor was a fluke.

There are a few bright spots in the film including the performances of Criss and Fitzgerald and a nice cameo from Bob Balaban.  Morgan claimed a lot of the script is based on her real-life experiences but you just wish she’d opted to write a diary and keep it all to herself rather then pen a screenplay as sadly there isn’t enough here to even consider recommending this for anything other than a last resort on a girls night in.

Read all our TIFF 2012 coverage here.