James Cole Clay // Film Critic
AN EVENING WITH BEVERLY LUFF LINN
If you’ve seen the acid-drenched John Water’s-esque 2016 movie THE GREASY STRANGLER, you may be intimidated to access the mind of Jim Hosking’s latest work, AN EVENING WITH BEVERLY LUFF LINN. THE GREASY STRANGLER operates in a weirdly whimsical atmosphere that’s part slasher film, part Adult Swim sketch, part family drama. Hosking’s films may seem inaccessible, but, after seeing his BEVERLY LUFF LINN, it’s clear this a filmmaker with heart, humor and his own cinematic language. It’s a more palatable work that may alienate some viewers with dry-as-sandpaper humor and peculiar characters. Even though the film is a bit long in the middle, Hosking tells a story rich with poetic life that comes back around for a genuinely sweet finale.
To describe AN EVENING WITH BEVERLY LUFF LINN is to step inside another world where each and every person is committed to their own brand of warped eccentricities, yet their lives look like your’s or mine. It seems that Hosking is making a shade of romance on his own terms, and he more, or less, succeeds to transcend the romantic comedy trappings.
Lulu Danger (Aubrey Plaza) is a woman who works at a coffee shop that’s perpetually stuck in 1985. It’s managed by her deranged husband, Shane Danger (Emile Hirsch); he’s a rather cocky guy who has little to offer Lulu other than his toxic ego. She keeps repeatedly seeing mysterious posters for “One Magical Night with Beverly Luff Linn” (Note: Beverly Luff Linn is played by Craig Robinson) around town and thinks about the life she longs for. Meanwhile, Shane and his coffeeshop goons, Carl (Sky Elobar) and Tyrone (Zach Cherry), throw on some “party city” grade wigs and rob the safety deposit box of Lulu’s brother, Ajay (Sam Dissanayake).
Hosking and screenwriter David Wike (with his first feature credit) waste no time apologizing for their characters odd behaviors. This is their way of life and he politely asks us to smile and nod. Now, if you’re willing to go down a journey of awkwardness, BEVERLY LUFF LINN is the movie for you.
Following the robbery, Ajay hires a random man at a washateria named Colin Keith Threadener (Jemaine Clement), who says he will break Shane’s knee caps for $200. Colin shows up to Shane’s house to collect and, out of nowhere, Lulu kidnaps Colin and the safety deposit box and heads to the hotel to enjoy “An Evening With Beverly Luff Linn.” Keep in mind: we have no clue who this performer is other than the dignified presence Robinson brings to the role. He’s escorted by his ward and best friend Rodney Van Donkensteiger (Matt Berry), and, in increasingly believable fashion, communicates only in throat clearing grunts. No clue how they got this to be a compelling performance, but Robinson and Hosking have done it.
AN EVENING WITH BEVERLY LUFF LINN is an odd gem of a film that can be hard to digest, but at its core, it’s a film about infatuation versus true love. Through Hosking’s heartfelt sentiment (that is articulated through otherworldly characters), the film mines for pathos, even in the more left of center moments. We all tend to feel alienated in life, much like Lulu, Beverly and Colin. But taking a chance on something peculiar could bring us closer together.
AN EVENING WITH BEVERLY LUFF LINN screened at Fantastic Fest and will have a limited theatrical release Oct. 18.