Admittedly, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect after the first few minutes of this film. Written and directed by Princeton Holt, the first scene seems like one of those cheesy online videos you find on certain websites (if you don’t know now, you will in a few), not just in the look and feel but in the performances. Admittedly, some of that feel continues throughout the film’s 90 minutes, as so much of the dialogue sounds ADR-recorded, with even up close shots containing lines that sound more after the fact than naturally delivered on the day. There are a few times (a lot of times, in fact) when it threw me out of the movie.
But after that introduction, this movie finds its’ heart, and you know what? This is a really good story. “Cookies & Cream” stars Jace Nicole as Carmen, a young woman who is talked into the van of a few guys who call themselves “film students.” They offer her $50 to drive around and answer some questions for them- they’re apparently making a documentary about human behavior. But it’s not long into their questioning that you get the feeling they have a certain area of behavior they’re interested in. By the end of the ride, she’s gotten a lot more than just money. It’s not long after that she’s starting her own website, called “Cookies & Cream.” Soon she’s an internet sensation for her adult website.
But it doesn’t take long for Carmen to find that it complicates matters romantically. She was honest with one date Jonathan, and he decided to try her “open-mindedness” by bringing a video camera to one date in. Her next prospect is a wonderful young guy named Dylan (Brian Ackley). They hit it off really well (although a trip on a horse-drawn carriage in New York has some awkward moments), and even the fact that she’s got an 8-year old daughter doesn’t phase him. But Carmen is having a hard time being honest with him about what she does. She doesn’t want to alienate him, or lose him. But the longer it takes her, the harder it gets, especially when they try to get close one night.
This film reminded me a lot of “Zack and Miri Make a Porno,” for some obvious reasons, and others not so obvious. But instead of a raunchy romantic comedy, Holt has made an intelligent and compassionate drama centered around Carmen’s dilemma. She wants a normal life, but she’s having great success with the website in doing what she needs to work her way through school and try to raise her child. Of course, it’s easy to say on the outside looking in that she could just find a regular job that’ll suffice, but knowing a bit about what kind of market there is online (from what I’ve seen), it’s hard not to see Carmen’s dilemma from her eyes. Nicole is wonderful at conveying that; even if the acting is a bit amateurish at times, the emotions get through anyway. That alone makes the film worth watching. I could carp about how the low-budget is obvious in the making of the movie, but you know what? My own film is having the same dilemma- what matters is how you use that to be more creative. That’s where story comes in, and Holt has a pretty great one to tell. He and his star make it worth watching.