The Foxy Merkins (2013)
Editor’s Notes: The following review is apart of our coverage for Inside Out Toronto: LGBT Film Festival which runs from May 22nd to June 1st. For more information on visit http://www.insideout.ca/ and follow Inside Out on Twitter at @InsideOutTO.
It is certainly an interesting time for independent cinema. With the advances in technology, more people are able to produce content that possesses a crispness that their older brethren could only dream of. Additionally, the wonder that is the internet opens these Davids to a wide range of different distribution models that the Goliaths formerly had full control over. Ultimately, it is a great thing for the filmmakers as there are more ways than ever to reach your audience. But with this deluge of new voices comes the issue of expectations. With so many indie films, audiences have the option to be more discerning, and expect a higher caliber of indie. Unfortunately for The Foxy Merkins, it isn’t able to hop that hurdle.
With so many indie films, audiences have the option to be more discerning, and expect a higher caliber of indie. Unfortunately for The Foxy Merkins, it isn’t able to hop that hurdle.
Margaret (Lisa Haas) is having a rough go of it in New York City. Without the ability to land a job, but a need to actually eat she opts to become a lesbian prostitute. Luckily she soon is taken under the wing of fellow hooker Jo (Jackie Monahan). With a highly specialized encyclopedic knowledge of the lesbian whoring scene, Jo lends Margaret a hand when she needs it most. The seasoned veteran and the newbie forge ahead into a world of middle-aged housewives and odd fetishes.
The Foxy Merkins is a joint acting effort on the part of Haas and Monahan, and both fail rather sweetly. They are admittedly amateur actors whose only feature forays have been with director Madeleine Olnek, but that doesn’t make them anymore talented. At their best, they can aspire to be mediocre student actors, but at times their performances dip into jarringly inhuman. Haas is constantly trying to nail the authentically befuddled and awkward yet her delivery is too practiced and more akin to the image of confusion rather than the genuine emotion. Likewise Monahan has trouble making her character’s blind confidence appear as if anything more than a one sentence character description. I was reminded of a recent revisiting of Clerks where I was struck by just how bad the acting was. Unable to make the words feel like their own, the characters struggle to obtain three-dimensionality. Luckily for Clerks, the strength of its script was able to carry it to success, The Foxy Merkins does not have this luxury.
The film seems so enamored with this idea of lesbian prostitutes that doesn’t take the time to actually write any worthwhile jokes.
Once the initial humor of the film’s premise begins to wear off, so does the chance of any regular laughter. The film seems so enamored with this idea of lesbian prostitutes that doesn’t take the time to actually write any worthwhile jokes. The Talbots punchline, while certainly chuckle worthy, overstays its welcome as the writers, Haas, Monahan, and Olnek, beat that horse well past its own death. The unfunny and uncreative writing fails on the joke front, as well as on the front of crafting a worthwhile and compelling story. As if constructed from the remnants of mid-90s indies that no one cared to see, the patchwork plot moves at a glacial pace. It is only when the film becomes bored with itself that it attempts to move forward, and even then it does so without any reason or forethought. When it can’t decide what to do with itself it goes for extreme absurdity, but even that isn’t enough to save it.
You know that your film is low budget when the Alex Karpovsky is your biggest celebrity claim. Karpovsky waltzes in as if from a better film and breathes much needed life into the proceedings, rescuing the desperately flailing film that is gasping for any kind of reason to exist. His character is the pinnacle of the absurd, and highly disconnected from the rest of the film. His weirdness is the only element that reads as authentic and his scenes could be removed to survive on their own as strange little shorts. If only that were an option.
Like the rest of the film, the direction leaves plenty to be desired. Shot simply, when any kind of creative injection would have helped, the camera lingers immobile, growing bored of the images it captures. Director Madeleine Olnek is banking on her niche audience to salvage this film from the abyss of irrelevance, but she offers no reason to do so. I imagine that this feminine trio were so enamored with their own brilliance as they crafted the premise of the film. As they basked in their own creative ecstasy they forgot that a film is not a premise alone. For nearly 90 minutes they force the audience to experience their achingly overwrought journey for something worthwhile. At one point it plays in the field of documentary with confessionals of lesbian hookery and as they quickly hop off of that intriguing concept I found myself praying for that film, because it had to be better than this one. Rather than a thoughtful comedy playing in a world that is far underseen in cinema, The Foxy Merkins is no more than a pedestrian, meandering, and unfunny yarn that fails to deliver in nearly every way.
Rather than a thoughtful comedy playing in a world that is far underseen in cinema, The Foxy Merkins is no more than a pedestrian, meandering, and unfunny yarn that fails to deliver in nearly every way.