2018 may very well end up the year that Mackenzie Davis finally gets the recognition she deserves. At long last given a starring role with “Izzy Gets The F*ck Across Town,” Davis makes the most of it. Style abounds here, from the performances to the direction. A film full of piss and vinegar, but also a fair amount of charm, it’s the sort of energetic calling card that should get all involved more work. There’s a light Quentin Tarantino influence here, at least in terms of the vibe, as well as in the multitude of monologues throughout. That’s the case for the first two thirds, for sure. The final act goes in a very different direction. There are highs and lows, plot wise, but Davis pulls you through.
“Izzy Gets The F*ck Across Town” is at its best when shooting for dark comedy status. The dramatic and even melodramatic stuff is hit or miss, even though Davis aces that material. The comfort zone for the movie is sarcasm. As the title character goes on a frustrating trek across Los Angeles, the desperation of a woman hitting rock bottom breeds some darkly comedic moments. The more the film leans into that, the safer ground that it’s on. It’s the third act quest for profound meaning that offers up a jarring change of pace. More on that later, though.
When we meet Izzy (Davis), she’s waking up in the bed of a stranger. Hoping to make a quick getaway, she instead has to talk to the guy, who happens to turn out to be George (Lakeith Stanfield), a helicopter pilot. That cool detail aside, she’s hungover and just wants to get home. A broke indie musician, she’s not looking for a guy. Then, she finds out that her ex boyfriend Roger (Alex Russell) is engaged, to her ex best friend, no less! Not only that, their engagement party is that not. Still clearly not over her ex, a hazy plan quickly comes into focus. Of course, she needs to crash that party. There’s the little issue of no money and no method of transportation to get her across LA, but this is a moral imperative to her.
As she attempts to crash the engagement party, Izzy ends up in one messed up situation after another. Whether it involves an odd sometimes employer named Walt (Haley Joel Osment), his Tinder date (Alia Shawkat), a lonely woman (Annie Potts), or her sister Virginia (Carrie Coon), nothing goes as planned. Through it all, we get more and more hints at who Izzy really is. Then, when she comes face to face with her past, things take an unexpected turn that’s best left for you to discover.
Mackenzie Davis has never been better than she is here. Paired with her tremendous turn in “Tully” earlier in the year, 2018 is showcasing her skills like never before. With a hard edge and a quick wit, she’s a writer’s dream. The character created for Davis is a vibrant one, with the actress elevating the role too. Whether asked to have a breakdown, talk circles around someone, or just spill her guts, she’s more than up to the challenge. It’s a joy to witness. Even when the film around her gets shakier, she’s a steady presence.
No one else in the cast gets more than a scene or two to shine in, but the surprisingly stacked supporting players do their best. The aforementioned group of Carrie Coon, Haley Joel Osment, Annie Potts, Alex Russell (though he feels like he’s from a different movie), Alia Shawkat, and Lakeith Stanfield are fine, though only Coon stands out. She elevates her small but crucial part. Also on hand is Brandon T. Jackson, among others. Without question though, the sole focus is on Davis.
Filmmaker Christian Papierniak throws everything at the wall here, hoping enough sticks. Enough does, but the first act is what’s truly memorable. By the midway point, things begin becoming more of a mixed bag, with the heavily emotional third act featuring some tremendous acting by Davis, but more of a muddied point of view. A simple sarcastic race against time comedy would have been less ambitious, though it would have been more of a home run. Whatever Papierniak does next will be intriguing, but the potential was here for something great, instead of merely good.
Despite its flaws, “Izzy Gets The F*ck Across Town” has enough going for it to warrant a mild recommendation. Mainly, the performance by Davis is the through line that makes this truly worth seeing. If you’ve been waiting for her to truly own the screen and be the focus of a filmmaker’s attention, you’re in luck. Jason Reitman did that to an extent with her supporting turn a few months ago, and this is even more of that. Watch it for her and you can’t go wrong.