Review: Hollywood (2022)

Vienna Shorts
Austrian Competition
Special Mention

courtesy of Vienna Shorts

When is the right time to give up on our dreams, face the music and accept our fate? Contrary to all those clichés, “Don’t stop dreaming!”, “Don’t stop believing!”, and all that jazz? If we ask the question, the time is now. Or never.

That is the situation the protagonist of Leni Gruber’s and Alex Reinberg’s short film Hollywood is in. This dramedy about an actress, her dreams and her reality has just won an Honourable Mention at the Austrian Competition selection of Vienna Shorts, after the premiere at Diagonale and Local Artist Award at Crossing Europe.

We meet Anna (Marlene Hauser) in her car at the gas station, as she listens to the message left by her agent, informing her that her role has been cut from the commercial. She pours the gas and drives on, with her devil-may-care attitude, smoking a cigarette in the old car. Gruber and Reinberg actually put a trick on us at this point, convincing us that she had an accident, until it is revealed that she actually acts at the exercises for the emergency services. She plays the victim.

Outside it, in the real world, she feels her time is running out, and she is reminded of it on every step. Her friend (Katharina Haudum) has a baby and her father (Franz Solar) has just arranged her a job interview at a local bank. It is evident that her career is in the dire straits, but she does not give up on it just yet. The question is for how long…

Relying on Hauser’s herculean multi-layered effort to play an actress of the limited talent and skill, which is actually a hard task, Hollywood has the potential of turning into a great short, since the basic idea of the film is fun and relatable. The trouble, however, lies within the script Gruber and Reinberg wrote themselves, as they go into numerous repetitions of similar situations with little variation and gradation. That puts the editor Daniel Rutz under pressure to keep the runtime of nearly half an hour tight enough for the audience to consume it, which he somehow manages.

On the craft level generally, Hollywood is a pretty competent piece of work. Patrick Wally’s camerawork in slightly longer, hand-held takes does the job, while the playing with the shallowness of focus plays a certain part in the film’s dramaturgy. The sheer size of the crew that includes a proper make-up team and the people handling the visual- and the special effects leaves an impression that Hollywood was a serious, professional effort. In the end, it might not be perfect, but it is still pretty good and engaging.

Year: 2022
Runtime: 28’ 31’’
Country: Austria
Language: German
Directed by: Leni Gruber, Alex Reinberg
Written by: Leni Gruber, Alex Reinberg
Cast: Marlene Hauser, Franz Solar, Katharina Haudum, Günther Lainer, Ingrid Schiller, Michaela Schausberger, Alexander Stecher, Katarina Maria Trenk, Valentin Geronimo Postlmayr
Cinematography by: Patrick Wally
Editing by: Daniel Rutz
Sound design by: Maria Lisa Pichler, Alexander Siegl
Sound recording by: Markus Ortner, Lukas Benedicic, Alex Siegl, Cristi Iorga
Production design by: Flora Besenbäck
Costume design by: Valerie Hofeld
Make-up by: Brigit Brezina, Erika Göweil, Sophie Thallner
Hair styling by: Emely Traunmüller
Special effects by: Andreas Wimmer
Visual effects by: Florian Grünberger
Assistant director: Lisa Hasenhütl
Produced by: Leni Gruber, Alex Reinberg, Dominik Wimmer, Patrick Wally
Production company: Provinz-Film
Co-production company: Piece of Cake Films
Supported by: Kultur Oberösterrich, Stadt Wien Kultur
Distribution by: Lemonade Films