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L.A. WITHOUT A MAP

UK / France / Finland, 1998 (MIFF 1999, International Panorama)

Director: Mika Kaurismäki

At the age of 22, Richard has inherited his father's undertaking business in Bradford. During a burial, his life is turned upside-down when he meets Barbara, a beautiful young aspiring actress from Los Angeles. Leaving behind the mundane and ghoulish funeral trade and a shrewish girlfriend, Richard makes the trans-Atlantic passage to America in pursuit of love, adventure and a screenwriting career. As an Englishman abroad— armed only with the script for his pet project Oozy Suicide! —Richard finds himself in disastrous and ludicrous situations as he attempts to win Barbara's heart.

Aki Kaurismaki's brother Mika (Tigrero: A Film that was Never Made, MIFF 1996) has constructed a furious farce peopled with a menagerie of eccentric LA types: avaricious agents, cut-throat directors, sycophants and despotic movie moguls. In this clash of European sensibilities and American garishness, 'romantic comedy' is more a starting- than end-point. Vincent Gallo (Buttalo 66, MIFF 1998) is outstanding in a supporting role as a dope smoking pool cleaner with musical ambitions. Julie Delpy is perfect and radiant as Barbara's best friend. With a fresh and naive vision of the land of dreams, LA Without a Map is an inventive and original slice of the high life.

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