Irene in Time, Henry Jaglom’s latest foray into supposedly female obsessions (previous visits include Eating, Babyfever and Going Shopping), is a loose-limbed conversation about daddies, daughters and emotional damage.
Set in a Santa Monica where work seems to have been replaced by lunching and pool-lounging, the film centers on Irene (Tanna Frederick), a loveless adult trapped in idolatrous memories of her long-gone wastrel father. Neither her justifiably bored mother (Victoria Tennant), her horrified dates nor her long-suffering girlfriends can stem Irene’s incessant gushing. But as the film’s breezy, confessional conversations gradually accrue an ominous tone, Irene’s obsession is slowly revealed as something more than an annoyance.
Marked by Jaglom’s familiar improvisational style, Irene in Time is a valentine to women and a letter bomb to men. (All of Irene’s suitors are as worthless as her father.) Smothering insightful moments in verbal and musical treacle (courtesy of Harriet Schock’s sticky songs), Jaglom displays an endearing lack of cynicism but an equal lack of discipline.
This might have been remedied by some of the older actors — including Karen Black and the cabaret artist Andrea Marcovicci — had their director been less focused on indulging his leading lady and more focused on believability. It takes a moment to appreciate that the what-on-earth? ending is the destination that Irene was seeking all along.