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Meet Monica Velour - Review

Meet Monica Velour

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

A LABOUR of love for its star, Kim Cattrall, Meet Monica Velour is also one of her finest roles in years.

Written and directed by Keith Bearden, the film follows the fortunes of an awkward teen (think Napoleon Dynamite, played by Dustin Ingram) who gets to meet his favourite porn star (Cattrall), a former ‘80s sex legend who has long seen better days, and the unexpected friendship that develops.

Part coming-of-age tale with awkward sex humour, part indie road movie and part gritty social drama, Bearden’s film has plenty of problems but enough to recommend it that a straight to DVD UK release seems unfair.

If only to see Cattrall deliver such an honest, painful warts-and-all performance, Meet Monica Velour remains worth seeing.

The actress piled on the pounds to play Linda Romanoli, a chain-smoking, hard drinking former porn star now reduced to stripping in seedy clubs and hanging out with bikers as she attempts to stay in her trailer-park home and get enough money together to reclaim custody of her daughter.

And it’s a heart-on-sleeve portrayal that is delivered without the need for Hollywood sentiment: rather, Romanoli has to work hard to earn our sympathy.

If the teen elements play uncomfortably alongside it, then that probably has more to do with the weaknesses of Bearden’s script, which also struggles with the comedic elements.

Ingram is great at being the nerd but some of the things he’s asked to do (ie, the obligatory masturbation shots, fawning over naked women, etc) belong more in an American Pie style comedy.

Had the film stuck to being a more straight-forward drama, then the themes of marginalization, ageism and sexualisation would have made a bigger impact. It would probably have helped to get Cattrall’s performance more noticed.

Indeed, Bearden – as director – ensures that his high calibre cast have plenty to work with during such moments, with Brian Dennehy and Keith David also making notable impressions whenever on-screen (the latter, especially so).

But as things stand, Meet Monica Velour is an uneven comedy-drama that needed a little more work in the editing room to find a better balance. It’s good without being great, but it showcases a great performance from Cattrall.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 98mins
UK DVD Release: July 4, 2011