Frank Perry | 1972 | 99 mins | USA
Watching Play It As It Lays feels a bit like being on some heavy downers. It’s slow paced, depressing and oh-so-stylish. It’s sort of like slipping quietly out of consciousness after a long, hard day of schmoozing and being nice to insufferable people. With the help of a pint of gin and valium, of course.
The aforementioned insufferables, the desolate desert landscapes, the petty arguments and improbable film sets all create a terrifically unbearable backdrop for Tuesday Weld to gently fall away from sanity in a hazy post-abortion breakdown. Her only support comes in the acerbic form of Anthony Perkins, her gay best friend. Perkins is probably the best thing about the film, as a disillusioned, mean spirited and quick witted producer.
Not much happens in Play It As It Lays. Films get made, everyone drinks a lot, has one night stands, attends parties and drives along the city’s many intricate highways. Beyond that, it’s just life as usual in soul-numbingly depressing Hollywood, California. It's really a hell of a bummer, but the film wouldn't be nearly as good any other way.
My favourite thing about this bleak film is its’ even more gloriously bleak, unresolved ending. The action trickles to a stop like the blood from a limp, carelessly slit wrist, and provides a perfect end to a perfectly senseless world. Play It As It Lays is notoriously difficult to find on VHS or DVD, but if you get the chance, it’s worth seeing this downer of a movie, if only to see Perkins in his only openly gay role and fabulous shaggy haircut.