LA Without a Map
Time Out saysA brief encounter, after a funeral, with vivacious Californian Barbara (Shaw) induces Bradford undertaker and obituary scribe Richard (Tennant) to quit his job and steady girlfriend for Los Angeles - and, perhaps, a dream screenwriting career. Barbara, however, is a bit iffy about his unexpected arrival at the restaurant where she waitresses. While she likes her limey admirer, she's anxious his presence might spoil her relationship with director Patterson (Bancroft), whose proprietorial desire for her could be a passport to an acting career. Pretty soon, Richard's jealousy is almost as strong as the nagging fear that he'll never really fit in in Tinseltown. Mika Kaurismäki's film, which he adapted with Richard Rayner from the latter's book, is a light, lively culture clash/meeting cute caper that never quite fulfils its promise. The pacing's perky enough for there always to be something to distract from the fact that, both as social satire and sentimental odyssey, the film's seldom as sharp as it might be. The problem, regrettably, lies with the choice of lead: Tennant is too weak to convince as someone who'd act so impulsively, let alone to engage our sympathies. Meanwhile, the affectionate and usually appropriate movie references are entertaining, but too liberally scattered.