1 December 2010 | Buddy-51
original and derivative in roughly equal measure
In the low-budget drama "Fix," Milo - played by Tao Ruspoli, who also directed and co-wrote the film with Jeremy C. Fels - and his girlfriend Bella (Olivia Wilde) are a couple of San Francisco-based filmmakers who are working on a documentary about the prison system in California. But before they can get to the task at hand, they have to drive to LA and get Milo's ne'er-do-well, drug-addict brother, Leo (Shawn Andrews), out of jail and into rehab by 8 in the evening or he'll be sentenced to three years in prison for violating his parole. They also have to find a way, by fair means or foul – mostly foul – of raising the $5,000 they'll need to enroll him in the program. Thus, the three of them race around the greater Los Angeles area, with the hopped-up, smooth-talking Leo finagling money out of some pretty shady and disreputable characters, though spending almost as much cash as he's taking in while doing so.
In a sense, Milo and Bella wind up making a documentary anyway – only on a subject different from the one they'd originally intended, one that arises from life as they're living it. We rarely get to see Milo's face on camera, since he spends most of the time filming the action (a la "The Blair Witch Project"). At this point, one either goes with this aggressive, you-are-there, pseudo-documentary style of fictional filmmaking or one doesn't. And, predictably perhaps, the approach, as employed in "Fix," is both dramatically effective and annoyingly distracting in roughly equal measure. The best part about the movie is its off-the-cuff glimpses into various milieus and locales in the LA area. The plot, which takes place over a 12-hour period, does have a spontaneous feel to it at times, though it also tends towards the redundant and attenuated. However, the final third of the film achieves a level of poignancy and artistry one wouldn't expect it to based solely on its earlier stretches.
Andrews brings a great deal of kinetic energy and roguish charm to the role of Leo, and Wilde is both poised and alluring as the attractive Bella. In fact, it is Bella's changing reactions to Leo and the world he inhabits that makes her the everyman character in the story who draws us more deeply into the venture than we would ever have gone without her. At first she is disdainful and casually dismissive of Leo; then, as she gets to know him better, her hostility turns to grudging admiration, then tantalizing approval, and, finally, a willingness to become at least partially complicit in his actions, making her in a sense the Bonnie Parker of the piece. The movie observes rather than judges Leo and the people he interacts with, while, at the same time, gently ribbing Milo – and, by extension, the actual filmmakers themselves - for his (and their) obsessive need to record every moment of existence rather than simply living life for its own sweet sake unencumbered by the camera.