Director: Geoff Marslett
Stars: Trieste Kelly Dunn, Francisco Barreiro, Ashley Rae Spillers, Melissa Hideko Bisagni, John Merriman
Running time: 99 minutes
Expect good, potentially much bigger things from Trieste Kelly Dunn, the star of director/co-writer Geoff Marslett's Austin-set character study Loves Her Gun. A naturalistic performer, Dunn (who also currently co-stars on the Cinemax original series Banshee) has a legitimate star quality about her, that certain blend of presence and range that should open the door for more projects and a strong buzz out of SXSW. To put it bluntly, she deserves material that's better than Loves Her Gun, a thematically confused mood piece that opens promisingly but hastily loses its way worse than a city slicker stranded in the Texas wilderness.
Dunn plays Allie, an outgoing Brooklyn resident who, late one night after her loser boyfriend leaves her alone, gets brutally assaulted while walking home. Shell-shocked by the incident, Allie spontaneously hops in an Austin native/friend's van and takes a road trip the Longhorn State. Before long, she's exposed to the Texas gun culture, strapped, and ready to make some poor, life-threatening decisions.
Despite Dunn's best efforts, something strange happens to Allie once she arrives in Austin: She begins making one contradictory move after another and, no thanks to the misguided script, degenerates into a wholly unlikable character. Random visual cues allude to her past trauma, conveniently reminding viewers that Allie is still mentally unstable due to the BK attack, but each on-screen reference to that event feels more forced than its predecessor.
Loves Her Gun plods its way through a series of interactions during which Allie casually hurts her friends' emotions, hooks up with people she just down-talked, and introduces the story's firearm aspect simply to set up a final scene that's equal parts predictable and unjustified.
Flawed protagonists are commonplace in movie; indeed, they're often the strongest characters. Yet there's a difference between blurring the line between empathy and dislike and merely writing a person who's plain-old infuriating, devoid of any silver linings. Talented folks like Ms. Dunn will always be powerless against that.