Robert Altman’s “Nashville” has had many imitators over the years: films that take an array of unrelated characters, then have them cross paths in the course of a day or a few days, hoping to strike sparks of friction or create harmonic resonance between people from different worlds as they encounter each other for the first time.
Sebastian Gutierrez’s “Women in Trouble” takes the Altman formula out for a test-drive. But Gutierrez, whose resume includes such undistinguished (and worse) screenwriting credits as “The Big Bounce” and “Gothika,” can’t follow through on promising premises he creates. It’s all set-up and no pay-off.
Set in Los Angeles, Gutierrez’s cast is comprised principally of women, each of whom is facing some sort of crisis. Several of them are involved in the world of pornography and their problems are either job-related (a porn starlet who can’t keep from barfing after engaging in girl-on-girl action) or a result of life/career crisis: the megastar who learns she’s pregnant and can’t decide if this is the moment to get out of this life.
Rather than develop his characters or plot threads, Gutierrez treats each scene as a kind of disconnected skit. There’s the stewardess who gets an offer to join the mile-high club with a randy rock star; or the psychotherapist whose lumpish preteen patient finally explains that her mother brings her for therapy because Mom is having an affair with the therapist’s husband – and their therapy sessions occupy the therapist while Mom and Hubby are having it off in the other room.
Lost daughters, sordid pasts, gangsters with guns: It’s a mish-mash that produces a few juicy moments but nothing that makes you want to keep watching to see what happens next. Carla Gugino (as a porn star) and Connie Britton (as an overextended business woman) have a nice scene together, trapped in an elevator – but, again, it’s more like a well-written sketch than a part of a larger movie.
The most jeopardy these women confronted was the day they said yes to “Women in Trouble.”