If "Drool" revealed itself to me by accident late one night on cable, I would probably think it was some long lost Harmony Korine picture, watching with a perverse curiosity to see how deep into absurdity the feature would plunge. However, "Drool" is not a Korine picture, which is a crying shame. Instead, the feature is a crude stroll into ill-advised indie filmmaking, hitting all the tenets of no-budget expression without a needed dose of insanity. It's a wily picture, but self-consciously so, making the pinched idiosyncrasy utterly insufferable at times.
Stuck in a loveless marriage to a rubber factory brute named Cheb (Oded Fehr, "The Mummy"), Anora (Laura Harring, "Mulholland Dr.") is lost in a rural Oklahoma haze, with two abusive children (Ashley Duggan Smith and Christopher Newhouse) helping her depression along. Moving next door is Imogene (Jill Marie Jones), a bright cosmetics rep who takes a shine to Anora. When their relationship goes from friendship to lesbianism, the pairing is discovered by Cheb, who's promptly gunned down by a trigger-happy Anora. Hitting the road with Cheb's decomposing body in the trunk, Anora, Imogene, and the kids try to move on as a family unit, processing the murder and the fresh opportunities it's provided.
To make a meaningful impression on the viewer, "Drool" splashes shock value and quirk around to stand out amongst the competition. The effort from writer/director Nancy Kissam is transparent, tearing through a tedious art-house formula that includes frank discussions of sexuality (oral favors are a particular fixation), flashes of animation, and a general disapproving attitude toward heterosexuality. The picture's unpredictable qualities are almost predictable in their regularity, making the general tenor of the picture all the more bothersome.
Not helping the feature is its bleating tone, with broad southern caricatures delivered by limited actors. Case in point: Israeli performer Fehr as a sweaty, incestuous, loudmouthed abuser. It's worse than it sounds. I've enjoyed Harring in the past, but her blank stare holds no mystery here, overplaying the dim-bulb routine to a point of character arc confusion. Jill Marie Jones is a bright star, but the script doesn't offer much in the way of a reason for her sunny day behavior.
The cast contributes harsh performances, but it's difficult to lay all of the blame at their feet when the script only drums up cartoon interaction and a bare minimum of emotional truth. "Drool" is ostensibly a comedy, but with the ensemble squawking around on tiptoes, it's often an unintentional one.
Audio & Visual:
Strand Releasing only provided DVD Talk with a DVD-R screener for review. Final A/V was not available.
"Drool" doesn't up anywhere particular over the course of 80 minutes, trusting its outlandish elements will do all the heavy lifting for the storytelling. The picture is an obnoxious mess with its heart in the wrong place. The more it pushes to be clever, the more meaningless it becomes.
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