★ | Broken Gardenias

Jenni is a misfit and a nerd. She is so clumsy that she breaks most of the plant pots at the nursery where she works and that really annoys her boss.

Her self-absorbed roommates all but one ignore her, and she is totally friendless. It gets even worse after she is hospitalised and loses both her job and her home. Clutching one cardboard box of her worldly possessions she makes tracks to the nearest park and sets about hanging herself from a tree.

Even this does not go to plan as she is cut down and rescued by Sam (short for Samantha) a feisty lesbian with a buzz cut and ripped jeans and a great big grin. ‘This’ she tells a downcast Jenni ‘is the face of a nice person’. Something she feels the need to point out after listening to the miserable girl pour out her tale of woe as it seems likely that she has never encountered a nice person ever before in her life.

Part of the story is Jenni’s father who she hasn’t seen since she was brought to the city and dumped there when she was very little. He is still in Los Angeles. Maybe. Jenni is very sketchy about details, but that doesn’t deter Sam who declares that they will set off for LA in search of him immediately. Even the fact they do not have a car, or even the faintest idea where in the vast city he will be is considered irrelevant by the overly optimistic Sam.

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Their road trip is littered with characters that Sam just shrugs off, but which wind up Jenni even more. When they arrive in the city and the search for the father starts, Sam has a detour when she runs into an old fling who invites her… and Jenni… to a wild party. Whilst Sam goes off to make out with her ex, wide-eyed Jenni ends up tripping on a psychedelic cupcake and getting into some bedroom action that she didn’t didn’t count on. She freaks out and then as she has angered the owner of the house as well, runs off into the city and is really on her own now. The question is will she survive, and will she find her father? Even more important will we have lost interest just like Sam does?

Broken Gardenias is billed as a dark comedy and is the work of first-time director Kai Alexander whose bio states that he spent his childhood with his parents who were part of a travelling circus which may account for the bizarre roster of characters the two women encounter. The script is by newbie writer Alma S. Grey who also plays Jenni.

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The sole bright spot of this film is the performance of Ashley Morocco as the bubbly Sam as asides from this the movie just simply fails to really engage, and for a comedy, it is painfully unfunny.

About the author: Roger Walker-Dack
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