Pulsing with a brash and seductive visual style but hamstrung by its ADD-riddled plotting, caffeinated travelogue Fix represents the directorial debut of multi-hyphenate Tao Ruspoli, and the first cinematic creative collaboration between he and real-life wife Olivia Wilde. After driving south down the coast from San Francisco, documentaryﬁlmmakers Bella (Wilde, below) and Milo (Ruspoli) spend one unwieldyday racing all over Los Angeles in an effort to get Milo's bailed-outbrother, Leo (Shawn Andrews, of Dazed and Confused), from jail to court-mandated rehab before an 8 p.m. deadline, lest he be sent to prison for three years.
In a hand-held, self-operated fashion that strains credulity and also rather quickly grows tiresome, the trio (mostly Milo) documents their trip from a suburban police station in Calabassas through Beverly Hills mansions, East Los Angeles chop-shops, San Fernando Valley wastelands and Watts housing projects as they attempt to raise the required $5,000 admittance fee to get heroin junkie Leo checked into the rehab clinic. Along the way they encounter dozens of colorful characters, each with their own anomalous perspective on Leo's larger-than-life personality and style. Most also have their own excuse for why they can't help, the notable exception being Carmen (Megalyn Echikunwoke), a can't-keep-her-little-model-hands-off-me crush of Leo's who professes an equal infatuation with him, despite the fact that she has a boyfriend. With her assistance, Milo and Bella make a late push at securing the necessary cash.
Working from an idea rooted in real-life experience (his brother was a charismatic drug user who required habitual ferrying about), and a script co-written with Jeremy Fels, Ruspoli succeeds in crafting a movie that has the benefit of passion, and a soulful investment in its material. If only that were enough. Fix is gorgeously photographed, by Ruspoli (who operates the camera much of the time) and Christopher Gallo, and it also makes effective use of some nice music, including songs from Ima Robot, Simon Dawes, Beautiful Girls and Nico Stai. But the human drama at the core of the premise ultimately feels a bit underdeveloped; with montages galore, the movie becomes a slave to its insistent artiness.
The story proper, meanwhile, comes across as a series of laboriously stitched together air-quote moments, from Leo getting his car out of impound by convincing Bella to sign hers away, and collecting on a debt by stealing a restaurant-quality cappuccino machine to buying a bulldog that he insists is "police-trained," and exchanging fist-bumps with motorcycle-riding gang-bangers. It's too self-consciously cute by about half. By the time the film settles on the ironic, wink-wink, nudge-nudge premise of the group selling $2,500 worth of pot in order to fund Leo's rehab, it's already squandered much of the goodwill that Andrews' affable, loose-limbed performance engenders.
In the end, Fix, which has been long delayed on its journey to the big screen, is through and through a festival film, as both its many special exhibition credits and thematic similarity to something like the recent Passenger Side attest. This means that while it focuses to a certain degree on fringe-dwelling characters, there's a knowing distance kept from conventional dramatic plotting and payoff, and, in this case too, a lacquer of hipness applied to the proceedings. The milieus feel authentic and gritty, even if the characters' actions — Bella's understandable, quite relatable exasperation and frustration melt necessarily away into enabling acquiescence — keep an audience from becoming truly transfixed by Leo's plight. For more information on the film, click here. (LAFCO/Mangusta, R, 90 minutes)