WHEN WILL I BE LOVED (2004)

Written & Directed By: James Toback 
Cinematography: Larry McConkey
Editor: Suzy Elmiger 

Cast: Neve Campbell, Frederick Weller, Dominic Chianese, Joelle Carter, James Toback, Barry Primus, Karen Allen, Michael Mailer, Lori Singer, Mike Tyson, Damon Dash, 

Feeling undervalued by her boyfriend, a young woman begins to explore her sexuality with other people.


Writer/Director James Toback rests a little too easily on the audience’s knowledge of his past work. He was a pretty much in-demand screenwriter, though became so tangled in controversy he is considered canceled in the industry.

I used to watch his films more for their examination of relationships but also for the way they were developed and filmed. More artistic and definitely more improvised.

This was the last of his films that I watched in a movie theater and this was the third strike in which I was very disappointed. After so much hype. After BLACK & WHITE and HARVARD MAN. Was really hoping for much better. Even if it was me and 3 other people in total in the theater to watch this film on opening day no less.

Neve Campbell in the lead role does fine with the role but she comes off a little too ordinary and long in the tooth to play this seductress that the male characters seem to obsess over. Though maybe more her personality and charm make it believable and let your guard down and hook you. Even though the role isn’t that strong, but puts her at the center of things and usually has the upper hand.

This might have been his way of making a Femme Fatale the main character and center of the film. His view of giving her agency, As she is put up as a pawn, but is actually in control most of the time. Even if the film never treats her as favorable. Toback seems to want to offer a film that is a conversation starter and shows him more about the side of the female characters. Even if when you watch more of his films from the second half of his career. He populates his films with these types of female characters. He paints as more scheming but never the main character. He also never truly offers any insight into their psyche. They just seem to behave in this manner as the stories require it for the films to have twists or tension

Frederick Walker is the only exciting and believable performance out of the main characters. This movie comes off as more an expressive and visual play than a movie. As it feels opened up to include more backdrops and scenery.

The film teases the audience when it comes to sex and nude scenes. That ends up rather Unrevealing and tame for a movie that is supposed to be an erotic drama. Even the brief one in central park is so brief and seemingly played more for laughs. 

The film offers strange cameos. One would guess is to the unpredictable nature of New York and its characters, but the characters in the cameos are more interesting than the main ones. Where we wish the film could follow or involve them more.

Even writer/director James Toback cameos as a parody of himself and his fascination with African Americans. 

The film doesn’t do intentional comedy well. The laughs in this movie are more unintentional. 

The story doesn’t make sense. As you wonder, the count can’t get his own women even though he is apparently world famous and would go to this sleazy guy, just to spend some time with his girlfriend? 

The film does have good camera work and a good soundtrack. Those are the film’s strengths. As it never feels real and it constantly feels like an act or a show. 

Grade: F

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