Review: The Blue Tooth Virgin

I wish I could say the film was about the homoerotics of phallic compensation, pathological American individualism, or the relationship between analyst and analysand.

The Blue Tooth Virgin
Photo: Regent Releasing

Sam (Austin Peck, more wooden than Tom Cruise) is an aspiring screenwriter who gives his latest script to his friend David (Bryce Johnson, one to watch) for feedback and preferably some praise. Sam thinks of his own script as his magnum opus, an illusion his “screenwriting friends” keep on nurturing. David, a successful magazine editor with secret screenwriting ambitions, finds the screenplay atrocious and must decide whether to be honest or feed Sam’s ego.

I wish I could say The Blue Tooth Virgin was about the homoerotics of phallic compensation (a la “My script is bigger than yours”), pathological American individualism, or the relationship between analyst and analysand (all of which the film flirts with). This hypothetical, non-affected version of the film would probably star Mathieu Amalric, be directed by Depleschin or Rohmer, and feature witty dialogue between neurotic characters trying to finish their doctoral theses while chasing after short-haired women prone to discussing Pascal between cigarette drags. But this is Los Angeles, the theses are screenplays, the neurosis is self-obsession, and the women only listen if they are being paid (apparently $1,500 a session).

Unless you’re French, honesty is hard work. Which is why a critic must either bear the coldness of a surgeon or find the linguistic dexterity to distill poison as if it were medicine. There is, after all, a gap of potential trauma between Parisian-style frankness and quintessentially American euphemism (the core of David’s dilemma). There is also a great gap between stereotypical French-style dialogue (smoke-laden and deep) and American-style conversation (pop culture-laden and fragmented). Blue Tooth Virgin tries its hand at the first only to fall victim of the latter.

For a film so keen on creating humor off the inaptness of a character’s script, Blue Tooth Virgin should have double-checked its own screenwriting chops. The film’s own script, by director Russell Brown, isn’t bad enough to form some mise-en-abime, meta-linguistic satire, nor is it stellar enough to earn the right to criticize the diegetic writing skills of its characters.

American independent cinema’s forays into verbose, dialogue-driven filmmaking tend to feel self-conscious and unrealistic—unless, of course, the subject is Quarter Pounders with cheese. While dinner talk between French characters can believably develop into fresh existential insights, American buddies realistically chatting across diner tables often exchange very little apart from pop-cultural trivia, junk food contemplations, or ego-driven soliloquies passing for dialogue. This lack of communication could have been a conceptual route for Blue Tooth Virgin, which ultimately sees its interesting lines and situations—of which there are quite a few—morph into the alluring contrivance of clichés that safely spring the narrative forward.

 Cast: Austin Peck, Bryce Johnson  Director: Russell Brown  Screenwriter: Russell Brown  Distributor: Regent Releasing  Running Time: 80 min  Rating: R  Year: 2008  Buy: Video

Diego Semerene

Diego Semerene is an assistant professor of queer and transgender media at the University of Amsterdam.

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