WHEN WILL I BE LOVED
Written and Directed by James Toback
When Will I Be Loved is an interesting title for this film because the question has no bearing on the events that take place. Maybe Neve Campbell’s Vera asks the question because of the way she is treated by men, but as it turns out she is really the one who is in control the whole time. That two questions that arose for myself as I watched it were, “How did Toback get Neve to agree to the nudity and gratuitous sex scenes?” and “Why would you want to subject film-goers to this pretentious piece of garbage?”
The film is extremely boring. We’ve seen this story a million times: femme fatale takes advantage of poor suckers who are too dumb to see it coming. Whenever you cover familiar ground, there should be a fresh twist, something unexpected to keep the viewers interest, but you can see the resolution of the story coming a mile away.
The film starts with a nude Vera taking a shower and eventually masturbating. The scene goes on for a while to make sure the audience understands that she is extremely sexual. This could have been done numerous ways, but it appears they went the easy route. Sure, she looks great and I would recommend guys watching that opening scene, but solely for prurient reasons. I’ll lay odds right now that this film will be long forgotten after it’s week-long run, assuming the management can stand to have it play that long, but this opening scene will be downloaded off the Internet more times than Windows XP patches.
Next, we meet Ford, Vera’s boyfriend, a pathetic hustler who is only able to convince himself that he has any game. He is a mediocre talker when he is in action and the only time he can con people are scenes that take place off screen because even the writer could make them plausible. There is a scene where Ford is fooling around with three blondes in the park. He told them he could get them to meet rap music producer Damon Dash, which leads to them throwing themselves all over him. Maybe if we saw one scene of Ford in action that was believable, we might give him more credit.
Vera goes to meet a professor for a job interview as an intern. Toback plays in the role in an effort to let the world know that Tarantino isn’t the only bad actor that directs movies. Whenever someone distracts the professor, Vera ends up chatting with the first good-looking guy she sees to exchange phone numbers. In case, you forgot the girl likes sex.
The oddest moment in the film is during this sequence when they walk passed Mike Tyson, yelling at someone in an apartment. The professor says, “Hello,” but Tyson denies who he is. Of course, now that half is face has that tribal tattoo it’s almost impossible to believe his denial, but who is going to argue with Mike Tyson, so they move on. The viewer is completely knocked out of the reality of the movie. Surprisingly, Tyson was very good in the scene. I don’t understand why Toback would completely squander the opportunity. Well, I didn’t understand until the film was over and realized he squandered every opportunity.
Vera returns to her palatial New York apartment that her rich parents have bought her. A girlfriend calls and comes over to see the place. Vera videotapes the woman as she asks questions and then they have sex.
Ford shows up later with a ridiculous plan, an indecent proposal as it were. He has somehow become acquainted with Italian media mogul Count Lupo. That scene also took place off screen. Allegedly, the Count had seen Vera in the Paris airport and became completely infatuated with her. Ford has set them up for an evening and the Count is willing to pay $100,000 for the opportunity. She seemed annoyed at first, but then agrees to the deal. The idea must have turned them both on because they have sex on the couch once she agrees to meet the Count. The sex looked unrealistic and silly.
The Count comes over to Vera’s and they have a long talk but don’t really say anything of interest. Vera tells the Count the price tag is up to one million dollars. Astonishingly, the Count agrees, comes back with the money and then we fade out.
The next day Vera puts the money in a safety deposit box and because New York is such a small city, she runs into Ford, who is very curious about the previous night’s events. Vera gets upset with Ford and tells him she never got the money. Ford goes to confront the Count. The Count tells Ford he paid more than what they agreed to, so they both go see Vera for the climatic confrontation.
We’re supposed to think Vera is smart, but she comes off like a complete idiot in the way she handled the situation. At the very least she’s already $900,000 ahead, but since Ford doesn’t know that, she could have easily haggled with him over the original $100,000. Ford is such a loser that he would have taken as little as $20,000, even $10,000, as a finder’s fee. Then she could have her arrangement with the Count, but instead she blows the deal wide open.
Maybe she was trying to teach the men a lesson because of the way they dealt with her. Admittedly, this would make sense if she had done anything else other than sleeping with the Count. After their tryst, I have no sympathy for her. Besides the scenario only makes sense before one million dollars entered the picture. Hell, I would have slept with the Count for that much.
In regards to the Count, his character is completely unbelievable. First, there’s no way some two-bit hood like Ford would ever have gotten close to the Count. He’s a billionaire media baron, for crying out loud. He is old, 60’s-70’s, but he very nice-looking for his age and quite charming. He could get plenty of women to have sex with him for less than a million dollars.
The initial idea for this modern film noir might have been interesting, but the execution is terrible. The script is horrible. It is filled with vapid characters that have unrealistic motivations and terrible dialogue, which, to be fair, might have been improv’d by the actors, so I shouldn’t blame the writer until I’m certain. The producers must have been better hustlers than Ford to have found financing for this film.