Lena's Dreams

The Boston Phoenix

DIRECTED BY: Gordon Eriksen

REVIEWED: 07-05-99

In the spirit of John Cassavetes's Opening Night comes this feisty New York story about how a closely held dream can sour into all-consuming desperation. The woman on the verge here is struggling actress Lena (Marlene Forte), who, on her 32nd birthday, realizes she's dogging auditions the way a junkie does a fix and is nowhere close to balancing career with house, husband, and health insurance. Fed up with the rejection and the humiliation, she embarks on a day-long emotional rampage that reels from catharsis to cliché.

Melodrama aside, the film is uncompromising in its truth about the siren call of acting, or for that matter any artistic pursuit. Husband-and-wife directors Gordon Eriksen and Heather Johnston heighten this feeling of starving-artist urgency with a jangly cinéma-vérité style and plenty of zoom shots. Yet it's the well-named Forte who fires up the tale's volcanic intensity. Indeed, Lena's Dreams is at its rawest and most complex when its heroine hurls her confusion, frustration, and disgust at one person only: herself.

--Alicia Potter

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