Entropy (1999) / Romance-Drama

MPAA Rated: R for language, brief nudity and sexuality
Running Time: 104 min.

Cast: Stephen Dorff, Judith Godreche, Kelly Macdonald, Lauren Holly, Jon Tenney, Bray Poor, Frank Vincent, Paul Guilfoyle, Hecotr Elizondo, Bono
Director:  Phil Joanou
Screenplay: Phil Joanou

Review published May 27, 2003

Director Phil Joanou delivers a mostly autobiographical tale based on personal events in Entropy, the story of a young director who falls in love with a fashion model, but through career choices and indecision, has trouble getting things to click with her despite his best intentions.  Joanou has directed some notable films, mostly commercial failures like Three O'Clock High, State of Grace, and Final Analysis, but it's really as a director of U2: Rattle and Hum that he has gained some critical success.  With some encouragement Bono and his peers, Joanou has set forth in bringing a bit of himself in his work, delivering an intelligent film with style that ultimately misses the mark by a tendency to overplay its hand.

Joanou casts Stephen Dorff (Blade, Riders) as Jake, a music video director who has worked with some high profile acts, namely U2.  He is given the opportunity of making a feature film, and while attending a fashion show he is flirted with by a French fashion model.  The two later meet and hit it off, sparking the beginnings of a seemingly lasting relationship.  Smooth sailing becomes rough seas as production on the film begins and Jake's focus turns to his work, only to be compounded by the big news of her pregnancy.  With his focus blurred, Jake finds it difficult to keep things together with the pressures from his home and career.

Admittedly, there is an undercurrent of pretentiousness in any semi-autobiographical work, and Entropy is probably more guilty of this than most.  Yet, when dealing with truth you are bound to hit a chord with someone out there, and certainly anyone who has been in love with someone but the planets aren't in alignment for them will relate.  Joanou impresses with a very good helping of style, both in the script and in the directorial style.  For a low budget film (reportedly around $5-7 million), you wouldn't know it from the production, which is top-notch.

Surprisingly, this never did see the light of the silver screen, instead going straight to video and the cable circuit around the world.  You'd think the U2 fans alone would garner enough interest to think this would be marketable, but I have to tell you, they probably hurt more than they help.  That's not because they are bad in it or anything, it's just that those people who watch this just to see U2 (which is probably a high percentage) will probably grow restless with the rather slow-moving comic romance elements and just start fast-forwarding. 

The intelligent writing, skillful directing and quality acting are what makes the film work in the end, but there probably should have been more meat on these rather bare bones to make a truly memorable motion picture.  If you like personal stories about the dangers of trying to balance a career with a relationship, especially in a Hollywood setting, you might want to check this out on your next trip to the video store.  Also, die-hard fans of U2 should be ecstatic at seeing them in a live performance inspired by the real story, and even Bono has quite a few lines.  Just don't expect them to dominate the film, as they are only in a couple of scenes.  It's an uneven experience, but just odd enough to feel unique.

Qwipster's rating:

2003 Vince Leo