In “Meet Monica Velour” Kim Cattrall, best known as “Sex and the City’s” iconic Samantha Jones, plays the title character, a former porn star, now a struggling, single mom. Her life changes when she befriends her biggest fan, Tobe (Dustin Ingram), an awkward eighteen-year-old boy who learns to accept her for what she is—she’s really Linda Romanoli—not for what she was.
‘You screw a few hundred guys,” Linda says, “and the whole world turns against you.”
“Meet Monica Velour” could have simply been Tobe’s coming of age story from mouth-breather to maturity, or a seedy look at a former porn star’s sad existence, or a May-December sex comedy but the quality of the performances and writing elevates it to interesting character study.
The character of Dustin is part Napoleon Dynamite, part Seymour from “Ghost World.” He’s a nerdy outsider with a passion for the past, and on the surface, an indie film staple. But Ingram dials back the eccentricity as much as the script allows, lifting the character above the level of cliché. The film could probably live without his underwear dancing scene, but the movie and its director Keith Bearden treat Tobe with respect and not just a quirky collection of personality tics.
As good as Ingram is, this is Catrall’s show. She’s left her “Sex and the City” Louboutins behind to present a rough and ready portrait of a woman on the downside of life. It’s hard not to relate Monica nee Linda’s struggles to create a life outside of her screen persona to Cattrall’s own close identification to Samantha Jones. Linda is not Monica, and Kim is not Samantha and the actress’s performance in this film should go a long way to dampening that association. If anyone sees this small indie film it should establish Cattrall as one of the more interesting performers in her age range.
I was sold on the film after one scene which feels comedic in the moment, but reveals itself to be dripping with pathos. Dustin and Linda have fought, and she’s in tears. Unsure of what to do he asks her an autograph, thinking that he’s about to be asked to leave and will likely never see her again. She flips from wounded woman to porn professional in a heartbeat and asks, “Do you want it on your underwear?”
Funny line, but not a funny situation as it reveals the tawdry way that Monica has learned to approach relationships.
“Meet Monica Velour” could have been just another idiosyncratic indie film, relying on the entertainment value of its quirky characters but Bearden and Cattrall, aided by an able supporting cast, including a scene stealing Brian Dennehy, brings real warmth to the story.