Art Of Woo an incomplete study

LIZ BRAUN

, Last Updated: 10:39 AM ET

The Art Of Woo is a sort of low-rent, Canadian version of Breakfast At Tiffany's -- the ambitious young beauty, the requisite bohemian lifestyle, the list of rich boys, the unexpected romance. And so forth.

Alessa Woo (Sook-Yin Lee) is an art gallery employee who is looking for everything fabulous in life. She passes herself off to anyone who'll listen as the spoiled daughter of a very rich family.

Somebody new moves into the apartment next door -- a friendly artist named Ben (Adam Beach). Our heroine is attracted to the quiet guy, but he's not in the right economic bracket for her.

The Art Of Woo has a very complicated plot, which tends to get in the way of everything. Alessa finally finds a playboy she can manage, but he turns out to have an unexpected relationship with Ben, the one man she actually likes. Her own family status is mostly fabricated. The movie switches from funny and quirky to complex emotion with a very loud grinding of gears.

Still, there's plenty to like in The Art Of Woo. Sook-Yin Lee, probably best known for her MuchMusic VJ role on TV, is very attractive in her part, as is Adam Beach in his. Beach takes off his shirt while painting in the film, a cheap and obvious visual ploy that one can only applaud. Loudly.

Also in the cast are Alberta Watson, John Gilbert, Joel Keller and Kelly Harms, with cameo appearances from Don McKellar, artist Suzy Lake and former Power Plant director Marc Mayer.

The Art Of Woo is an urban -- and urbane -- tale set in Toronto, which is rare. The film has plenty of energy and a strong soundtrack. You can see where the movie's going with regard to issues of identity, and it's a shame it never quite gets there.

The characters cannot rise about the dialogue to become fully three-dimensional. For The Art Of Woo, filmmaker Helen Lee makes her feature directorial debut by taking on both the writing and directing duties. The result is uneven, but audiences will be interested to see what Lee does next.

(This film is rated AA)


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