Review: Fix

The wannabe-Strung aesthetics reveal the project’s underlying style-over-substance concerns.

Photo: Mangusta Pictures

Everyone keeps telling budding documentarian Milo (writer-director Tao Ruspoli) to stop filming in Fix, a demand easy to agree with throughout this tiresome first-person-shot saga about Milo and girlfriend Bella’s (Ruspoli’s real-life wife Olivia Wilde) efforts to get Milo’s junkie brother Leo (Shawn Andrews) to rehab by nightfall lest he get sent back to prison. Bella is immediately turned off by Leo, who makes his entrance in ratty pajamas and no shoes, and while her opinion of the unrepentant addict, con artist, ladies man, and all-around sleazeball slowly softens over the course of their day-long odyssey, Ruspoli’s film engenders no similar audience reassessment of Leo, who remains an aggravating narcissist-cum-pity-partier who takes no responsibility for his situation. Leo barely wants to go to rehab, but Milo, driven by brotherly love and guilt, is compelled to get him there, an aim which comes to entail driving through L.A.’s ritzy and inner-city neighborhoods trying to trade stolen cars, score drugs, and sell a pound of pot for money to cover the rehab clinic’s entrance fee. Any potential drama to this scenario is negated by characters devoid of interest, as Milo remains a largely heard-but-unseen figure, Bella is a dull complainer along for the ride, and Leo is a heroin-chic loser whose ungratefulness toward Milo and Bella engenders an overwhelming desire to see him wind up behind bars.

Ruspoli’s scenic cross-section L.A. travelogue conveys a strong sense of milieu even as his wannabe-Strung aesthetics (spazzy editing, shifts in film stock speed, color filters, extreme close-ups) reveal the project’s underlying style-over-substance concerns. Wilde, in particular, is shot in unflattering light and at cockeyed angles, and though griminess is related to Fix’s nominal interest in the nastiness of addiction (and the pain of loving someone who’s hooked), it routinely mistakes flashy ugliness for true insight. Cooking up some smack in a decrepit crack den, Leo tells the camera it’s “not what it looks like in the movies at all,” the mistake being that this scene, like virtually everything about this derivative endeavor, is in fact exactly what indie druggie portraits typically resemble.

 Cast: Shawn Andrews, Olivia Wilde, Megalyn Echikunwoke, Tao Ruspoli, Dedee Pfeiffer, Jacob Von Eichel  Director: Tao Ruspoli  Screenwriter: Tao Ruspoli, Jeremy C. Fels  Distributor: Mangusta Pictures  Running Time: 90 min  Rating: R  Year: 2008  Buy: Video

Nick Schager

Nick Schager is the entertainment critic for The Daily Beast. His work has also appeared in Variety, Esquire, The Village Voice, and other publications.

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