Garden Party: Just another indie soap opera set in decadent L.A.

In an attempt to score some serious indie cred, writer-director Jason Freeland crams as many random situations involving nudity, drugs, and homosexuality as possible into this recent SIFF flop. The film opens with 15-year-old April (Willa Holland) standing in her bra and putting on enough makeup to rival a drag queen. She soon escapes her creepy stepfather for the refuge of her lesbian cousin's house in L.A. (Does it matter that she's a lesbian when she's only onscreen for 2.5 seconds?) Sketched out by some girl-on-girl action, April then decides to get her own place by working as a nude model. Meanwhile, Midwestern 'mo transplant Nathan (Alexander Cendese) dreams of becoming a dancer but settles for dealing pot for a mysterious realtor named Sally St. Clair (Vinessa Shaw). Her secrets for being L.A.'s best broker? Looking like a porn star and sneaking her clients fine bud. Eventually, for some reason or another, April interns for Sally and rooms with Nathan. (She's fine with boy-on-boy action.) Sundry subplots about wannabe rock stars and various fetishists are forcibly tied into the main characters' lives. Garden Party's cast consists mainly of attractive young talent, but there's only so much they can do with these cringingly contrived and self-conscious scenarios.

 
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