Opening with the ritornello, “Follow your dreams, or they’ll chase you forever,” début-feature-director Amara Cash (along with co-writer Alex Bloom) has fashioned a fascinating love triangle that crosses the border of fantasy role play, Internet stalking (not always a bad thing, we learn), lesbian encounters and drama-dating turned sour.
Beyond the two principals (Montana Manning delightful and sultry, whether wearing dollhouse getups or slinky lingerie, as clothing designer Jasmine Jones, alongside Madison Lawlor, who demonstrates fine dramatic craft portraying Maya Mitchell—a smitten, emerging lesbian who has dreams of being a professional artist and getting laid), but swirling around both women are parents who aptly demonstrate the old adage “you can’t choose your relatives”.
At the centre of this familial universe is Simon Craw (done up with addictive style by Andrew Pifko) who revels in shooting up and playing Daddy to a kept beauty who has no qualms about getting on her knees and accepting an “allowance” (as all good little girls love) of $5,000 a month to ensure availability and loyalty. In a brief, but important part, Monte Markham offers the only role model of concerned parenting, playing Simon’s father with equal doses of compassion and tough love. Maya’s mother (Kamala Jones doing well until the somewhat weak “greed” scene) redefines the term “selfish bitch” while dirty-mouth stepdad (Seth Cassell) gives Maya more reason than ever to escape the “family” home.
Jasmine’s “parents” provide a much-needed moment of comic relief. Mother (Jodi Carol Harrison is an unhinged hoot) comes onto set belting out (not coincidentally) “Beautiful Dreamer”; deep hippie and stepfather-to-be (none better than wondrously bearded Ronnie Clark) proves to be the sanest of them all: you still can’t tell a book by its cover.
The film works at its best as the two women find themselves even as Sugar Daddy is—literally—cut in and out of the budding romance. Using portions from Vivaldi’s The Seasons adds aural glue to these sequences. Both the cinematography (notably the extended party scene—kudos to Nico Aguilar) and Cash’s tight editing keep the eye readily engaged.
But once the family secrets are revealed to all, the production loses its inner tension even as Maya’s most important dream is realized thanks to the duplicity of others.
Those watching—wondering if their lifelong dreams will ever morph into reality—can take away some comfort from this resolution. JWR