Smile Again, Jenny Lee

A procedural mystery shot in San Francisco on a tiny budget

The lesser of this week’s two films about estranged father-daughter relationships that also unintentionally evoke The Room, Carlos Caldana’s Smile Again, Jenny Lee is a micro-budgeted mystery based on Caldana’s self-published novel and shot in San Francisco. Jenny (Monique Hafen) is a former tennis star whose career collapsed after she was assaulted on the street, and her agent stole her money. She decides to track down her absentee father for financial support, and reluctantly accepts the aid of amnesiac janitor Charles (the mysteriously accented writer-director-producer-composer Caldana). The parts of the picture that work are the procedural elements, including Jenny’s ex-manager Alan (Jonny Moreno) who conducts his own investigation, and the supporting performances are on par for this kind of film. What doesn’t quite work is every- thing else, beginning with a title that’s only slightly less condescending than You’d Be Prettier If You Put on Some Makeup, Jenny Lee — although Hafen’s performance rises above the material, eliciting more sympathy for Jenny than the movie believes she deserves. The picture is also strangely over-edited, as though credited editor “Oif Schmilblick” (Guy Incognito must have been busy) couldn’t bear not to include footage from any given camera angle, and you could base a drinking game around all the unmotivated dissolves. Note: SF Weekly is not responsible for your subsequent alcohol poisoning.

Smile Again, Jenny Lee
Not rated. Opens Friday at the Roxie Theater.

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