by Warren Curry
A woman awakes one morning in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theater on Hollywood Boulevard, seemingly struck by amnesia. In fairly quick succession, she encounters a colorful cross section of people who frequent this territory — a vociferous homeless man, two Hollywood tour guides and two women who dress up in superhero costumes and make money posing for pictures with tourists. Regardless of amnesia, starting your day like this could be a shock to anyone’s system.
“Footprints,” Steven Peros’ directorial debut (he wrote Peter Bogdanovich’s 2002 film “The Cat’s Meow,” adapting his own play), can be described as an adult fairy tale, light in tone yet not without thematic depth. The protagonist (Sybil Temtchine) — she’s only known as Our Gal — will experience quite a bit more during the course of an eventful day even while largely remaining on the same one mile stretch of Hollywood Boulevard.
There’s an engaging sense of mystery here, as Our Gal attempts to discover her identity, but the film’s overall atmosphere is quite safe. Hollywood Boulevard’s odd flavor is dutifully captured, however, there’s little sense of the truly seedy aspects prominent within the urban chaos. One gets the feeling Peros purposely chose to not depict that facet of the setting, but his film suffers because of this decision. Even within the context of this movie’s ethereal universe, Hollywood is stripped of its fangs to a surprising degree.
Sybil Temtchine’s makes for an endearingly innocent, vulnerable character and following her on this modern day Hollywood fairy tale has its share of pleasing moments. Her interaction with an older actress named Genevieve (Pippa Scott) in one scene, which takes place outside of the Egyptian Theater, is charming and the overall smooth pacing gives the movie a buoyant feeling. The film delivers an ultimately hopeful message and has more than its share of crowd-pleasing qualities.
But “Footprints” is a touch too agreeable for my personal taste. It’s not that the film is completely devoid of peril (one ominous figure continually poses a threat to Our Girl), but those elements lack just about any bite due to the serene mood. Some more dramatic heft, a few scenes that delivered real tension would have been greatly welcome.
This film will perhaps appeal to those fond of lighter, safer entertainment, who are also able to appreciate movies produced on minimal budgets. Peros certainly demonstrates a sound grasp of storytelling form and pacing and shows decent directorial instincts, but the serving of meat between the bread is on the thin side.
Director: Steven Peros
Cast: Sybil Temtchine, H.M. Wynant, Pippa Scott
Not rated, 80 minutes
(Screened at 2010 Method Film Festival)