Audrey Brodsky (Tegan Ashton Cohan) has always wanted to be an actor and, in her twenties, made that familiar journey west to Hollywood where… she lost ten years working in a cubicle-laden office. Facing a promotion that is sure to cement her as an office fixture, and after hearing her other friends lament their own stuck status in life, Audrey decides to quit her job and go after her dream again. Hollywood is still an unforgiving place, however, and so Audrey decides to give herself something of a leg up, conceiving of a reality show about an office worker who quits her job to make it big as an actor. Accompanied by her trusty cameraman, known as Camera One (Matthew Kevin Anderson), Audrey sets about making her dreams come true.
Cindy Baer’s feature film, Odd Brodsky, is a whimsical tale in the vein of Amélie, complete with quirky characters and narration. It truly works here; the life of Audrey Brodsky seems just strange enough to be fantastical, and yet, if you’ve ever lived in LA, it’s more heightened reality than surreality. Everything that happens is entirely believable.
But the film embraces a fairy tale tone, and gets meta on top of that. By the time the end rolls around, it’s a film that has wrapped and consumed itself a couple times over. For example, real life director Cindy Baer plays Audrey’s filmmaker friend Sammy, who seems to be unable to cut the cord from a film she found success with a decade prior, that just so happens to resemble a previous feature of Baer’s, Purgatory House. Suddenly the film is reminiscent of reality, but it’s fictionalized, and the film has its first toe in the world of surreal self-awareness that only gets more prominent.
If that sounds confusing, it really isn’t in the context of the film. All plot developments occur naturally and flow well, though I did find that a subplot involving a love triangle seemed to meander just enough to break the film’s momentum. It’s a small speed bump, disruptive enough that the whimsy seems to dissipate a little, but the film does manage to ramp back up and recapture its magic.
The film looks and sounds great, and the acting is truly wonderful. Tegan Ashton Cohan’s Audrey manages to maintain an innocence that never falls off into stunted childhood; she’s not naive, or oblivious, she’s just determined. We root for her because we know what she’s up against, and at least she’s trying something.
Odd Brodsky is a fun story that acquits itself with absurdity and charm. The word that keeps returning to me as I think about the film is “whimsical” (perhaps I’ve used it enough already to make for a drinking game), but I think that captures the essence of the film.