An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn Review

Jim Hosking’s offbeat second feature, An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn, will no doubt have its fans and will, in all probability, develop a cult following away from mainstream cinema audiences.

But whilst entertaining it is also maddeningly irritating, so much so that a few guests had walked out of my screening long before its end.

The story opens in a shabby, deserted café where the manager, Emile Hirsch’s Shane Danger has been forced to fire one of his team in order to reduce his overhead.

To make matters more awkward, the soon to be ex-colleague whose employment Shane has chosen to terminate turns out to his wife, Lulu, played by the excellent Aubrey Plaza.

Lulu takes her to her new life freed from the shackles of gainful employment like a fish to water, mostly by watching daytime TV, consuming snacks and verbally abusing her husband as he struggles to make ends meet.

This new-found horizontal equilibrium is only disturbed when she watches an advert for a touring entertainer, Beverly Luff Linn, performing for ‘one magical night only’ in a poorly appointed out of town hotel.

In the meantime, the inept Shane, channelling a poor man’s wolf of Wall Street, steals money from Lulu’s brother, Adjay. He in turn hires the equally ineffective Colin, a wannabe hitman played by Jermaine Clement, to retrieve it in the most painful way he can think of.

What follows is a series of set-pieces and buffoonery which leads to Lulu leaving Shane to stalk out the mysterious Beverly, who it soon transpires, is an old flame.

Colin is forced at gunpoint to accompany Lulu to the hotel and he soon falls in love his captor.

The closer it gets to the big performance it becomes clear that the spark of romance between Beverly and Lulu still smoulders.

They are continually prevented from meeting by an almost restrained Matt Berry, playing the possessive Rodney, who appears not only to be Beverly’s professional manager but also his platonic life-partner and amateur physician.

An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn is an ultimately disappointing feature that never really manages to fully take off.

Hosking manages to take a strong cast and a promising, but silly, premise and concoct an over-cooked and at times difficult to watch hot mess of a movie.

Craig Robinson is clearly enjoying himself as the title character but after a while his single function – grunting excessively loudly – really starts to grate.

This dancing on the grave of bad jokes continues throughout the film. A sequence where a character secondary to the action continually coughs and spits is repeated a few scenes later.

Everything is played too deadpan, characters are over-earnest in their stupidity.

This has all been done before. The overriding sense is of a film very pleased with itself.

The obvious reference point to the tone is the brilliant Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace, but the difference is that this was in homage to a bygone age of television horror mystery dramas.

An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn doesn’t really anchor itself to anything in particular although there is also a clear David Lynch influence.

Yet, despite the obvious flaws, the impressive cast help make Hosking’s second feature eminently watchable.

And for those who stick with it; the build up to the splendid dénouement where we finally discover what Beverly’s act actually is, probably just about makes all of the previous frustrations worthwhile.

Although I ought to mention, without revealing any spoilers, that this bit is also utterly bat-shit bonkers.

Frank Gardiner

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Dates ‘n stuff

October 2018