Writer-director-editor Danny Sangra takes on the complicated relationship between art and commerce in the sharp, surprising "Goldbricks in Bloom." This quasi-satirical feature, Sangra's first, weaves together two distinct story lines, which start out amusing but descend into far more serious drama.
Producer and star Kat Clements anchors the main story line as Julia, a freelance fashion stylist in New York. Despite their rather charmed lives, she and her posse exhibit an intense sense of malaise about their vaguely creative jobs.
Zosia Mamet is pitch perfect as Julia's best friend Cleo, a photo editor filled with ennui, and the group of pals wile away their brunches and Hamptons dinner parties happily tapping away at their phones. A separate story, stylistically and tonally different, follows the rise and fall of a young artist, Calvin (Sam Hamill) and his charmingly smarmy and sketchy agent-dealer Miles (Jake Hoffman).
There's a dryly acid humor to the proceedings, but the performances and Sangra's script allow the characters' humanity to eclipse their oftentimes insufferable and spoiled surface. Sangra utilizes intertitles, self-reflective voice-over, and documentary-style interviews to imbue the film with a sense of meta-artifice, bringing attention to the film's construction.
Playing with form underscores the message about the messy relationship between artists and industry — that industry is profoundly artless, and commercial fine art is almost built to swallow artists whole. When the timelines connect, it's a shock to see how it all manages to morbidly make sense within a rather senseless world.
'Goldbricks in Bloom'
Running time: 1 hour, 33 minutes
Playing: Arena Cinelounge, Hollywood; also on Vimeo