- 1 hr 50 min
In 1992, the comedy-drama film "Mistress" graced the silver screen, presenting audiences with an unconventional and thought-provoking story about the intricacies of the entertainment industry. This underrated gem, directed by Barry Primus, stars Robert Wuhl, Martin Landau, and Vasek Simek and delves into the lives of four men involved in the making of a B-movie, each trying to cope with their own desires, dreams, egos, and shortcomings.
"Mistress" primarily revolves around Marvin Landisman (Robert Wuhl), a struggling filmmaker desperate to break into Hollywood. Frustrated by his inability to secure meaningful projects, Marvin decides to take matters into his own hands by directing and producing a low-budget film called "Mistress." This film within a film concept becomes the central device through which the complexities of the characters' lives unravel.
Marvin's dream project centers around the life of a scorned mistress and the powerful men in her life. As he assembles his unconventional cast and crew, audiences are introduced to the enigmatic Jack Roth (Martin Landau), a veteran character actor who is chosen to play the lead role. Jack is both excited about the opportunity to work on a leading role and troubled by the weight of his own fading career. Through Jack's struggles, the film explores the harsh realities of the entertainment industry, where actors can be hailed as stars one day and forgotten the next.
While the film's focus is primarily on Marvin, Jack, and their tumultuous working relationship, other characters add depth to the narrative. Vasek Simek portrays Joe, a Czechoslovakian crew member who has immigrated to the United States for a chance at pursuing his filmmaking dreams. Joe's inclusion raises important themes of identity, resilience, and the pursuit of the American Dream. His experiences as an outsider provide a unique perspective on the American film industry and its promise of success and failure.
As "Mistress" begins production, the tensions between the cast and crew start to mount. Marvin's creative vision clashes with Jack's experience and ego. Conflict arises as Marvin's strong-willed actress wife, Rachel (Sheryl Lee Ralph), becomes romantically involved with Jack. This complicated love triangle adds another layer of drama and emotion to the story.
Through wry humor and a satirical lens, "Mistress" exposes the pretentiousness, vanity, and absurdity of the entertainment business. The film is unapologetic in its critique of the industry's obsession with celebrity culture, showcasing the lengths to which individuals will go for fame and fortune. As the characters navigate their desires and disappointments, the movie offers a poignant commentary on the human condition, the sacrifices made for art, and the pursuit of happiness in a cutthroat world.
The performances in "Mistress" are top-notch. Robert Wuhl delivers an endearing portrayal of Marvin, embodying the struggles and dreams of a filmmaker yearning for his big break. Martin Landau's performance as Jack Roth is both comical and heartbreaking as he grapples with his fading relevance in the industry. Together, Wuhl and Landau create a captivating on-screen dynamic that drives the heart of the film.
Ultimately, "Mistress" is a hidden gem of 1990s cinema, captivating audiences with its unique storytelling style, witty dialogue, and compelling performances. It offers a satirical and thought-provoking exploration of the entertainment industry and the sacrifices made in the pursuit of success. By delving into the lives of the characters behind the scenes of a B-movie, the film questions the very essence of art and the choices artists must make to leave their mark on the world.
Mistress is a 1992 comedy with a runtime of 1 hour and 50 minutes. It has received moderate reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 5.4 and a MetaScore of 63.