On the surface, it looked as though the right decisions had been made: get Bret Easton Ellis to adapt his own novel (with co-writer Nicholas Jarecki), cast insanely, and have the youngest and most attractive actors (Heard, Jon Foster, and Austin Nichols) take off their clothes whenever possible. Still, the result is an enervating slog through an overly familiar setting: rich, debauched Los Angeles in the 1980s. Did you know they did coke then? It's true!
Intermittently, director Gregor Jordan captures that trademark Ellis vibe: dreamy surreality punctuated by bursts of tragedy that the numbed, drugged-out characters hardly know how to process. After a startling early car accident, though, the film shifts into low gear—and the removal of the book's vampire storyline means it has even less bite. "What was the point?" everyone asked in the lobby afterwards. Ellis's short stories coalesced into a meditation on mortality and meaning, but there's no theme or drive in the adaptation.
Still, good news for the Mr. Skin fans out there: Senator is releasing the film in April and was merely premiering it at the festival, meaning that screencaps of Amber Heard's performance as The Girl Who Never Puts a Shirt On will live forever, even after this film is long forgotten. Hey, will you look at that? Guess it managed to be a statement on mortality after all!
(Also, film critics: we are totally calling dibs on the headline "Regret to Inform." There, you cannot use it anymore. Thanks!)