It’s hard to care for the main character.
It’s no secret that it’s tough to be a female actress who can no longer pass as an ingénue—while Michael Douglas and Denzel Washington may become more “distinguished” as they age, women just get old. In fact, Kyle Buchanan published an interesting analysis in Vulture a few years ago that demonstrated that in movies, as the headline proclaimed, “Leading Men Age, But Their Love Interests Don’t.”
Knowing that the deck is stacked against you doesn’t make dealing with that reality any easier to take, however, and that’s the dilemma faced by Mia Rourke (Alexia Landeau), the central character in Zoe Cassavetes’ feature film Day Out of Days. The title refers to the calendars used on film shoots that indicate the number of paid days for each cast member and serves as a reminder that the movie business is primarily about making money rather than treating people fairly or honoring a diversity of viewpoints.
Rourke, a previously successful actress, is finding that at age 40 she’s not particularly in demand. Her days are filled with humiliations, from the sexual come-ons of a creepy director (Eddie Izzard) to being informed that her clothes, which she is selling to make money, are “vintage,” to being told that she should audition for the role of a “kooky mom” in an upcoming film. She’s told to be more open, to smile more, to not come on so strong, and to be more pretty. Her agent (Brooke Smith) isn’t getting her any good auditions and as much as tells her that she might want to seek her fortune elsewhere. A director of slasher horror films (Vincent Kartheiser) abuses her verbally, her mother (Melanie Griffith) demands her financial and emotional support but offers nothing in return, and her ex-husband (Alessandro Nivola) is more successful than her in every way. The lone bright spot in Rourke’s life is spending time with her gay best friend (Cheyenne Jackson), but even his life story (he’s a dermatologist who does charity work) serves to shame her and her lack of success.
Landeau is very good in the lead role, as are the performances of the large supporting cast, and the cinematography by Denise Milford captures Los Angeles in a series of jewel-like shots that make even the expressway look attractive. The problem is that it’s hard to care for the main character, because although her career is unfairly on the skids, she still seems to be living an enviable life (with a nice house and a nice car, among other things) and doesn’t seem motivated to make any significant changes. Day Out of Days is a sensitive and accurately rendered portrayal of a real situation faced by many women, but it does assume that the audience is interested in the lead character and her troubles and doesn’t do much to try to create that interest. So, although well-done, it’s a real YMMV film that works if you are inclined to grant your interest and sympathies to the main character and doesn’t work so well otherwise. | Sarah Boslaugh
Day Out of Days is available on Digital HD and On Demand from MarVista Digital Entertainment.