Tired aphorisms on free will and fate plunge writer-director Oliver Mann’s chaotic crime-drama “Such a Funny Life” into a humdrum groove of situations and reactions from which it never emancipates itself. Three distinct time periods in an aspiring comedian’s troubled existence come up short in their task of characterizing him as a multidimensional survivor of psychological abuse.
Unresolved hurt stemming from a dreadful upbringing courtesy of his bitter, ex-con father still mortifies David Gutierrez (Gonzalo Trigueros), even now that he’s amassed considerable recognition as a stand-up performer. Self-assured in front of the microphone, the bearded jokester crumbles when past sorrows resurface.
Unnecessarily and sporadically narrated by the protagonist’s mentally unstable mother (Nastasha Strang), this stale New York tale teems with flashbacks, including to the antihero’s teenage years, when his drug-dealing friends committed a vile crime for him.
Contrary to the exaggerated inflections and mannerisms of his costars, Trigueros doesn’t succumb to the urge to ham it up. In fact, the movie’s most laudable trait is his feasible transition from scrappy, beanie-wearing scoundrel to virile and creative L.A. resident.
With an air of gritty nostalgia, the hues that tinge the frames and the cinematography in general, generate the illusion of a higher production value. Mann, an emerging Latino filmmaker, exhibits signs of vocation for the craft that could lead to a more fruitful product some day. For now, what he serves is a tortuous trick with a confusingly dark punch line for an ending.
Running time: 1 hour, 23 minutes
Playing: Starts Nov. 8, Arena Cinelounge Hollywood