Friday May 14, 1999
Linda Kandel's "Mascara" is a feature-length soap opera zeroing in on three female friends unnerved by the prospect of turning 30. While working on a decidedly modest budget, Kandel reveals admirable commitment to her characters but is not sufficiently detached from them to provide her material with depth and perspective.
The sad truth is that all three women are vapid and offer little to engage our concern. They rely on one another but show no interest in anything beyond an all-consuming need to love and be loved in return. Kandel seems to identify with her heroines so intensely that she offers no comment on such awesome self-absorption. Such a state is of course all too credible but is quickly off-putting; Kandel might well have considered setting off her compassion with a satirical edge.
She sets her story in motion with the impending marriage of Laura (Lumi Cavazos) to an immature jerk (Steve Schub) who, later, manages to run up a $47,000 credit card bill a mere seven months after the wedding. Meanwhile, Jennifer (Amanda de Cadenet), who has a small daughter and is married to a hard-working, successful attorney (Barry del Sherman), has turned into an alcoholic tramp because her life is so empty and her husband is so busy; she justifies her behavior as revenge upon him.
Ione Skye's Rebecca seems a happier spirit, although she feels compelled to flit from one job to the next. She seems happy enough in a relationship with a middle-aged photographer (Steve Jones, once lead guitarist of the Sex Pistols), but becomes dismayed by what she considers his daughter's unhealthy attachment to him; meanwhile, she becomes carried away by his good-looking son (Corey Page). Virtually the only true adult in the film is Rebecca's aunt, well-played by Karen Black in an all-too-brief appearance.
Kandel makes the trio's anguish palpable, but they indulge in so much self-pity you find yourself caring little as to what happens to them long before the picture is over. Kandel's actresses try hard, and Cavazos, who starred in "Like Water for Chocolate," manages to make Laura more intelligent and worthy of attention than she really is. But game as they are, there's not much Skye and De Cadenet can do with Rebecca and Jennifer. Since there's so little to care about in these people, there's little to care about in "Mascara."
Mascara, 1999. R, for strong sexuality, language and a rape scene. A Phaedra Cinema release of an Anamorph Films production. Writer-director Linda Kandel. Producer Crocker Coulson. Cinematographer Francois Dagenais. Editor Jane Pia Abramowitz. Music Steven Medina Hufsteter. Costumes Jennifer Levy, Lisa-Ann Cabasa. Production designer Thomas Thurnauer. Art director Eduardo Sarabia. Running time: 1 hour, 36 minutes. Ione Skye as Rebecca. Lumi Cavazos as Laura. Amanda de Cadenet as Jennifer. Karen Black as Aunt Eloise.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times