2006-03-30 13:25


Undiscovered is the story of a group of young artists struggling to build careers in the unforgiving worlds of music and acting. Brier (Pell James) has left a successful career as a model in New York to pursue acting in LA. Much to her surprise she runs into Luke (Steven Strait), the handsome stranger with whom she shared a romantic moment on the New York subway years before. Luke is having no luck attracting a recording contract - despite his years on the LA club scene and his obvious talent. Sadly Brier has already vowed never to date a musician again after being hurt by a philandering British rock star. Instead she and mutual friend Clea (Ashlee Simpson) mastermind an underground PR campaign to get Luke noticed. But their plan works a little too well for their liking and they soon begin to wonder what happened to the Luke that he knew and loved.


To call Undiscovered a 97-minute-long music video would be, however accurate the comparison, an insult to music videos. A good music video is a marvel of compact complexity - intriguing, inventive, filled with tension and startling imagery. A good music video surprises or challenges the viewer, and its tantalising ambiguities invite multiple interpretations. Above all a good music video is well shot, making the most of its visual medium.

Undiscovered, on the other hand, is a rambling piece of banality that, at just over an hour and a half long, seems like it will never end. Every one of its ideas has already been explored somewhere else with more verve and originality, and the passage of the plot is about as surprising as a loaf of white bread. The film has no shades or shadows, no psychological depth, just the undifferentiated two-dimensionality of a chocolate box illustration. Everything is what it appears; the world is neat, obvious and utterly boring.

But by far the biggest crime committed by Undiscovered is its misuse of the visual medium. Director Meiert Avis and his director of photography Danny Hiele have clearly made a choice to go for the "gritty" and "independent" look of a movie made entirely on handheld cameras, ala cinema verite. The best way to achieve this, Avis and Hiele have decided, is by introducing as many shaky and out of focus shots as possible. Instead they succeed only in distracting and, eventually, irritating the hell out of the audience.

Even if the visuals had been more competently handled, there would still be little to recommend the film to even the most undemanding audiences. Yes, the actors are all pretty, or at the very least interesting looking. Yes, the music is largely inoffensive and at times even quite good. Yes, the film features the amazing skateboarding bulldog whose videos have filled the mailboxes of people around the world. But despite all these gimmicks the film never adds up to anything more than the sum of its parts. The film's original working title was Wannabe - and that pretty much sums it up.

Perhaps Undiscovered would have made a good music video after all, had it been restricted to 4 minutes and 45 seconds in length. In that sort of timeframe the love story might no seem so empty and passionless and the plot might not appear so ludicrously sugar coated. We could even endure a full 5 minutes of Arty-Shako-Cam (tm) with only mild irriation. Until it is condensed to this length, don't bother. You can't ever get 97 minutes of your life back - don't waste them on Undiscovered.

- Alistair Fairweather

Tries to be both edgy and loveable - and ends up being neither.

nhlanhla 2005/11/29 11:21 AM
so and so the man mr&mrssmith
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