Izzy Gets the Fuck Across Town is no more than the sum of its parts, but with crisp writing and such off-kilter and intriguing performances the film still adds up to a fun ride.
More a series of vignettes than a meaningful narrative, Izzy Gets the Fuck Across Town mirrors the episodic nature of its protagonist’s approach to her own life. A couch-surfing, starving-artist musician who’s new to L.A. and can’t even scrape together cab fare, Izzy (Mackenzie Davis) follows her fiery impulses wherever they take her, and she pours her energy fully into her interactions with the ramshackle cast of friends and acquaintances who can act as either enablers or obstacles to getting what she wants. Despite both her assertive personality and self-sabotaging behavior, Izzy professes a stalwart belief in fate, even when she finds herself waking up next to a stranger after a night of black-out binge drinking.
The unfamiliar bedroom floor is strewn with condom wrappers and the rumpled, wine-and-blood-stained uniform of a catering gig from which she just got spectacularly fired. She rouses the equally hungover and confused man (Lakeith Stanfield) lying in bed next to her and the two introduce themselves and get to know each other after their night of amnesiac sex. They would probably enjoy each other’s company if they’d met more conventionally, but the mercurial Izzy is quickly ready to gather her things and move on to whatever’s next. Fate rears its head when Izzy finds out on Instagram that her ex-boyfriend (Alex Russell) and ex-best friend (Sarah Goldberg) are getting married, and the engagement party is that night on the other side of town. This sets a furious Izzy, without a penny to her name—the last of her meager funds tied up in car repairs that her mechanic (Brandon T. Jackson) seems intent on never completing— hurtling by bike, scooter and bummed rides on a collision course towards the party to break up the engagement.
That central plot does eventually get a dramatic and thoughtful resolution, but the film’s third act is its weakest as a result. The film’s vitality lies in the journey itself, through the quirky characters Izzy meets along the way and the offbeat scenarios in which she ends up finding herself. Desperate for $40 in cab fare, she shows up at the home of a peculiar shut-in named Walt (Haley Joel Osment), for whom she performs random errands and other tasks through an online app. She helps Walt profess his somewhat pathetic love to his passed-out Tinder date, Agatha (Alia Shawcat), who eventually awakens and offers Izzy a ride, even though the two of them simply end up debating predestination versus chaos theory as Agatha tricks Izzy into helping her break into a house. Later, Izzy receives some kindness and wisdom from an aging, eccentric artist (Annie Potts) and revisits her glory days in music when pressured into an intense acoustic guitar performance with her sister and former bandmate (Carrie Coon), and these impassioned exchanges are far more compelling than Izzy melodramatically confronting her former friend and ex-boyfriend when she eventually succeeds in making it the fuck across town.
In his debut feature, writer-director Christian Papierniak—whose previous directing credits involve a number of entries in the NBA 2K video game series—brings kinetic pacing and hyper-stylization to certain sequences of the film along with a raucous riot grrl soundtrack. While frequent use of chapter title cards is unnecessary and distracting and a handful of pink-hued dream sequences are a bit contrived and pretentious, the film benefits from some of its stylistic touches, as when Izzy reminisces with her ex about a magical moment they’d shared and the room around them begins to shift toward the colors and lights she describes. Davis excels at making Izzy, an intensely self-absorbed and reckless individual, into a character the audience can actually root for, imbuing her impulsiveness with pathos and making her a relatable protagonist even when she’s at her most terrible. As episodically structured as it is, Izzy Gets the Fuck Across Town is no more than the sum of its parts, but with crisp writing and such off-kilter and intriguing performances the film still adds up to a fun ride.