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Donís Plum (R.D. Robb) 2001 

Disclaimer Ė I viewed Donís Plum not in a theater, but on a bootleg VHS tape that I got off of ebay, complete with an occasional time code, suggesting it might not have been a 100% finished copy. Still, it seemed close enough that I donít feel too bad about writing a review. 

Donís Plum, a jazzy riff of a movie that feels more like an extended short film, has had its US release suppressed since itís not exactly flattering to its powerful starsí (Leo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire) images. During the slightly improvisational film, which takes place almost exclusively in a restaurant / bar named ďDonís PlumĒ, a small group of twentyish boys and girls wax not-too-poetically mostly about sex and what they perceive as each othersí weaknesses. Derek (DiCaprio), the resident misanthropic alpha-male, is the most irritable of this group of slackers, and his mean-spirited taunts at the others set the tone for this evening of ďhanging outĒ. 

Though the movieís lack of narrative thrust, variation of topic, and low production values recall Larry Clarkís Kids, this is a much better, less damning movie, though it must be noted that it takes fewer risks than Clarkís film did. Still, the cast manages to consistently build a good deal of energy with their banter, even if that energy has no place to go, since the movie doesnít have much in the way of a point beyond an evocation of their mindset. Thatís disappointing, because itís usually preferable to have some sort of insight instead of simple, if effective, recreation of mood. 

Itís a bit disturbing that DiCaprio and Maguire had no faith in their audienceís ability to discern the characters that they play from they people who they are. Though there are a few slightly shocking moments (DiCaprio threatens to stick a bottle in a womanís face and Maguire threatens to stick a finger up his ass), thereís nothing that could really be seen as a real threat to their establishment as matinee idols. Itís a shame that, as two of their generationís better actors, they arenít bigger risk takers. Frankly, the bit in Vanilla Sky where Tom Cruise insists that he is straight is more shocking than anything Donís Plum offers up. These characters are so obviously characters that I donít see how the fear that their attitudes would be read as representative came to be, especially since DiCaprio himself plays an even less likable character in Woody Allenís Celebrity, and even though the film is a bit of a failure, itís still better than The Cider House Rules or The Beach

The presence of those stars is the main reason to see this film, however. There are only a few scenes Donís Plum that work unequivocally (the best occurs when one of the gang is offered a ride on the casting couch), and the rest of the cast doesnít make much of a lasting impression. The worst moments in the film occur during the frequent and indulgent confessionals given to a bathroom mirror. Nearly the entire cast stops the action for a snippet of soul baring once or twice, but it rarely has any enlightening effect upon the main action. As a Diner for its generation, it feels terribly empty. Ultimately, Donís Plum is most interesting as a footnote to the tabloid tale of its distribution. 

**Ĺ 

01-04-02 

Jeremy Heilman