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Black Limousine


A better ride than expected.

Rod Lott July 12th, 2012

Composer Jack McKenzie (David Arquette, Scream 4) is not at his best. His career has tanked due to sobriety issues stemming from an auto accident that killed one of his two children with his now ex-wife. To clear his mind and pay the bills, he takes a gig as a limo driver.

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At an AA meeting, Jack meets Hollywood actress Erica Long (Bijou Phillips, Hostel: Part II), who's just as messed-up as he is. When he later sees her while on his job, he attempts to strike up a relationship, despite her extreme reluctance. His ability to listen wins her over, so things begin to look up personally and — with the power players he encounters as their temporary chauffeur — professionally as well.

And then Black Limousine takes narrative turns that makes us wonder how much we can trust what we've seen so far. Without spoiling it, things grow more and more surreal — the clues are all there, as a second viewing reveals.

Director Carl Colpaert's film is a case of style over substance, but on purpose. An imperfect surrealistic drama, it's way better than you'd think for what is essentially Arquette doing Travis Bickle. The actor's tabloid exploits have made us forget what we liked about him in the first place, but the underdog character of Jack gives him an unexpected dramatic showcase that is likely too close to real life for comfort — his, not ours.

The same could be said for Phillips, but whereas she has been the best thing in a couple of recent dogs (Made for Each Other), she's not very good as Erica. I felt uncomfortable watching her in several scenes. These do not include the space opera The Land of the Astronauts, Black Limousine's film within a film, which exudes an atmospheric vibe along the lines of CQ, Roman Coppola's 2001 debut and now cult item. I don't foresee an equal fate for Black Limousine, although it's nearly as deserving. Carlos Durango's power-ambient score is too magnificent to ignore. —Rod Lott

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