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Thursday, June 12, 2014

Lake Los Angeles Review: Drive Past This One

Lake Los Angeles begs you to pull over and notice it. Here's why you shouldn't.

Director Mike Ott's Lake Los Angeles makes the supposition that one can find love just about anywhere and under the most extreme conditions, such as the desert town of the same name. Unfortunately, his film about two illegal aliens not only feels desperate for attention but never earns our trust or concern. From the beginning, we're not promised much: Francisco (Robert Sanchez) has left Havanna hoping to make enough money to bring his wife and children to the States. At the same time, the 10-year-old Cecilia (Johanna Trujilo) arrives as an illegal who's been promised that she'll be reunited with her father. When that moment fails to arrive, Cecilia runs out into the desert, which is literally the backyard of Lake Los Angeles, until she can return to Francisco to start anew.

The problem with Ott's work is that nothing here is of value, from the desolate town to its actors who seem stuck in the most boring place ever conceived. All they literally do in Lake Los Angeles is walk around and look sad and desperate. I'm not kidding: a large chunk of of this film features Cecilia and Francisco staring at food, or her snowglobe, or a dog. It's all meant to be artistic, but Trujillo's blank stares are simply not enough to carry entire scenes by herself. Ott never introduces conflict - or a point really - to the film, leaving our characters with nothing to do but..you guessed it...stare.

At only 85 minutes, Lake moves at such a slow pace that one hopes something meaningful would occur. Instead, Cecilia is walking again, or staring, or stealing food until her life becomes so desperate that she somehow quickly finds Francisco's house, a plot point that heretofore was as hard for her to accomplish as me launching a rocket into space. When that moment suddenly arrives, the two - yes, it's coming - stare at one another. This promise of a fresh start should have been the plot all along. Their coming together and bonding would have made for far better drama than what we got.

Lake Los Angeles sounds like a pretty awful place to live, the kind of world where one can never truly escape. The problem is, it seems like a very boring to place to be as well. Like those armpit rest stops along the way to your destination, this one's utterly unworthy of your time.

Lake Los Angeles is Unrated and has a runtime of 85 minutes.

Discuss this review with fellow SJF fans on Facebook. On Twitter, follow us at @SandwichJohnFilms, and follow author Matt Cummings at @mfc90125.


Anonymous June 15, 2014 at 2:24 PM  

I agree with you completely -- saw this film at LAFF and thought it was pretty bad. There wasn't an honest moment in the whole movie.

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