Indie satire 'It Happened in L.A.' goes heavy on the misery

There’s a monster terrorizing the citizens of Los Angeles in writer-director Michelle Morgan’s “It Happened in L.A.” She’s a petite brunette named Annette (played by Morgan) and she terrorizes her loved ones with her weaponized disdain. She doesn’t think much of palm trees, Milton Bradley games, Glassell Park, hiking, her best friend’s love life, and especially her longtime boyfriend, milquetoast TV writer Elliott (Jorma Taccone), and she isn’t afraid to express it.

Morgan’s arch script about the doomed love lives of the young, rich and idle in L.A. is at times a Whit Stillman-esque social satire. There’s a whiff of a whip-smart, acid-tongued Jane Austen heroine in Annette, but she’s lacking an essential ingredient: empathy. There is something fairly amusing in observing these creatures during their complex mating rituals, though one relationship is so ostentatiously inappropriate that it’s completely distracting.

The overarching theme that emerges is one about the dangers of comparing oneself to others, especially in romantic relationships, and the inherent dishonesty in produced images of contentment — ideas that were skewered by the much sharper “Ingrid Goes West.” Ultimately, the grumpy young folks of “It Happened in L.A.” discover that misery does love company, and they all might as well be miserable together. For these characters, that’s as close as a happy ending as they can muster.


‘It Happened in L.A.’

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 37 minutes

Playing: Arena Cinelounge Sunset, Hollywood

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