One of the crimes an actor can commit is to remind the audience that they’re acting. In the case of the melodrama in Cinemanovels, the cast could all do time in the clink. Since writer/director Terry Miles is the head of this operation and knows no boundaries for heaviness or volume, he should be committed too.
When a highly regarded filmmaker passes away, his distraught daughter Grace (played by Lauren Lee Smith) swoops in to help a retrospective of his work that was being assembled. Having not seen any of her father’s provocative films, she watches them and is persuaded to cure her unhappiness and sexual curiosities that occupy her personal life.
Cinemanovels has a wobbly time stabilizing its potentially intriguing premise, which means my intensity of caring for anything happening in the movie wavered as well. Miles takes the wicked misstep of turning the film’s dial to “soap opera”, and proceeds to have his company get overemotional and carried away with themes of infidelity and deception.
The film’s uneven and supremely defined musical score should almost take second billing away from Jennifer Beals since it intrudes and hogs more screen time. There are so, SO many elements in the movie telling us how to feel instead of letting the audience have a natural response. But, no matter how hard Miles and his drama push, the feelings sound as hollow as some of the locations the filmmaker had decided to shoot in.
Last year, Sean Garrity made a movie called Blood Pressure. It leaned more towards being a thriller and less on titillation, but both films share a lead female who feels unfulfilled with her overall individual stature. Rather than riffling off devices to trigger emotional reactions from the audience, Garrity let his film become a slow burn, allowing tensions and desires to build. It made motivations more believable, gave movie goers the chance to take in the ominous cues and steps our heroine had to take, and Garrity’s crisp cinematography was given more time to shine.
I digress only because I think Terry Miles could learn a thing or two from Sean Garrity about telling personal journeys. There are ways to execute these types of stories and Cinemanovels is an example of what not to do – unless steamy soap operas do something for you. If so, I suggest turning on your television in the early afternoon and channel surfing. You’re bound to find something equal to – or greater than – Miles’ half baked erotica.