ELIZA SHERMAN’S REVENGE
Written and directed by Gregory Fitzsimmons
Starring: Jackie Geary, Kristen Miller, Kiva Jump, Mageina Tovah, Larry Bates, Jamison Haase, and Mike Rock
Dances With Films, the independent film festival taking place June 1 through 11, is providing viewers with some of the most creative and entertaining films of any festival. “Eliza Sherman’s Revenge,” is no exception to this wonderful rule. With a “tag line” of “forgiveness is overrated,” you know immediately that you are in for a hilarious and perhaps dark adventure. When a film makes you laugh out loud non-stop while you gasp at some of the events, you know you have a winner.
Eliza Sherman (Jackie Geary), through a bizarre exchange at Coachella with a band member, now possesses a few super human traits. Feeling wronged and bullied by her former roommates from 10 years ago, she’s about to set the story straight. She invites the three women and their significant others over for a birthday party for a famous actor—Richard Grieco. Enticed to meet this man, they all begrudgingly show up. Their “party” just turned into a nightmare—they must apologize for their past wrong-doings.
There’s no warm-up in this film. The opening scene is a launching pad into a no holds barred, fine-tuned comedy. Rachel Fowler (Kristen Miller) is rehearsing how she will say hello to her long-lost “friend” with absolutely no sincerity in her voice or her eyes. She is exactly the woman everyone loves to hate. She’s beautiful, smart, savvy, and as emotionally deep as a puddle in the street in mid-summer. The disdain in her voice as she greets Eliza at the doorway is palpable and already we are rooting for Eliza to win at whatever the game is going to be. Bethany Higgins (Kiva Jump) counterbalances Rachel’s personality with an overwhelmingly high-strung, jumpy, and overprotective “mom” mode. She and her hubby, Tyler (Larry Bates) couldn’t be more opposite as she counts his predetermined quota of drinks for the night. And then we have Jodi (Mageina Tovah) and her Tinder-swiped boyfriend, Aaron (Mike Rock) who is set on changing her personality to a clean-living, health nut. Eliza’s distaste for her guests is evident, but with the promise of Grieco showing up, the guests talk amongst themselves, backstabbing Eliza incessantly while she cooks a “gourmet” dinner. The mood is set and Eliza strikes—with salsa. The group wakes up from their drug-induced sleep the next day to find that Eliza has trapped them using a force field and attempts to intimidate them with her lightning-striking fingers. Apologize for their past transgressions or pay the price. The truth of the past is revealed as well as their true personalities which quickly bubble to the surface. There are even a few lessons are to be learned, perhaps the hard way.
Sound confusing? It’s not. It’s all remarkably clear and concise with a tight script and perfectly timed execution of lines. It’s a crazy cast of characters played by extraordinarily talented actors who have honed their comedic skills with the sharpness of the knife Rachel attempts to stab Eliza with. The story plays out quickly, darting from topic to topic, taking you on this whirlwind of a ride. The fast-paced tempo of the dialogue keeps you glued to the screen, not wanting to miss a single hysterical and often-times unexpected quip. For comedy to work, it’s got to be smart and this is the Einstein of comedies.
There’s not a weak link in the group, but Jackie Geary is the lead as Eliza Sherman and she nails it as the “Carrie” type who is hell-bent on seeking revenge. Geary uses her articulate and no-nonsense delivery to lead the group, setting up the situations for the comedy of errors to unfold. Miller is stellar as as “the worst” of all the former roommates and Bates simply shines as the bullied and controlled spouse. The unexpected and wonderful surprise standout role is the pizza delivery guy who Craig Ricci Shaynak creates beautifully. This small but extraordinarily talented cast with deft direction and succinct editing give us a preeminent dark comedy that will keep you in stitches the entire time.
“Eliza Sherman’s Revenge” is a brilliantly funny film opening on Saturday, June 3 at 9:30 pm. For ticket information, go to www.danceswithfilm.com/eliza-shermans-revenge/