It’s new year’s eve in Los Angeles; Wilson and Vivian have met as a result of a craigslist advert posted earlier in the day. He’s had a terrible year – his attempts to pursue his dreams started to go wrong before he even reached the city – and as we find out during the film she has her own troubles. They meander around downtown Los Angeles, chatting, flirting and bickering away.
The script and acting both share many of the best elements of Kevin Smith’s work, being very funny but in the context of a real drama with engaging and very real characters. The humour is never a result of consequenceless gags – the characters say and do things that are funny but this always feels natural and if what they’re doing is not actually terribly clever it’s obvious that they feel the results.
This would make for a very good movie even if that were all that was going on (it might be something close to 2 Days in Paris, another great movie that was at the Edinburgh Film Festival this year) but the way the film is shot adds an extra something. Everything is shot in a clean 1940s black and white, complete with soft focus for the leading lady, and manages to make LA appear beautiful in a way that it rarely does. The visual style softens some of the hard edges that the script has – there’s a constant reminder of a fundamentally nice kind of film, making everything feel much warmer than it might have done. This warmth is the main thing I took away from the film and judging from the atmosphere in the room during the Q&A afterwards I don’t think I was alone.
The film being released in cinemas in the US on Valentine’s Day 2008, hopefully it’ll get a cinema release over here too. Seeing it in the cinema is may be the only chance to see the original black and white version – a colourised version is being prepared for the DVD release, though I hope that both versions will be included.