Phase9 Movies 2000-12

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Year: 2001
USA: Paramount Pictures
Cast: Albert Brooks, Leelee Sobieski, John Goodman, Michael McKean, Desmond Harrington, Carol Kane, Pauley Perrette, Lisa Jane Persky, Mary Kay Place
Director: Christine Lahti
Countries: Germany / USA
USA: 109 mins
USA Rated: R for language and some sexual material
USA Release Date: 12 October 2001 (Limited Release)


Winner of a 1996 Academy Awardİ for her distinctive short film LIEBERMAN IN LOVE, acclaimed actress Christine Lahti makes her feature film directing debut in the heartfelt dramatic comedy MY FIRST MISTER. Perceptive and touching, the picture portrays an unlikely bond between two total opposites. As their relationship develops, a friendship that seemed impossible becomes inevitable.

17 year-old Jennifer (Leelee Sobieski) has just graduated from high school in a ceremony she made certain not to attend. She works hard to keep the world at a distance and has devised her own individual goth/punk disguise to protect the lonely girl inside. Fascinated with death because she is afraid of life, Jennifer is more innocent and more in need than she would ever dare let on.

Jennifer lives at home with her mother Sylvie (Carol Kane) who is scarred by divorce and scared of the changes her daughter is undergoing and she relies on near-terminal optimism as a defense mechanism. Jennifer's hippie dad Ben (John Goodman) moved out a long time ago and steers clear of any real involvement in his daughter's life.

Randall (Albert Brooks) stands in complete contrast - a precise, well-ordered man of 49 who runs a conservative men's clothing store in an upscale shopping mall. Randall keeps everything under control. He is unfailingly polite and carefully tailored and he lives alone. Yet underneath all the protective coloring of middle class comfort, Randall is deeply afraid, nursing secret regrets about the past and hidden terror of the future. His loneliness is awesome.

Each of them long-term prisoners of their own highly developed emotional armor, this wildly dissimilar pair should never meet, never connect at all. Yet one day, after initially rejecting her job application, Randall observes that Jennifer is still sullenly planted in front of his shop window and eventually offers her a job in the stockroom.

Thus starts an intriguing association between the two and Jennifer begins to realize Randall is keeping many secrets from her. It just does not make sense to Jennifer that a man she is growing to care about, the one man she dares to trust, can remain so tightly wrapped in his own isolation, so shut off from her. This leads her on a journey of self-discovery as she is driven to discover more about his background.

Her mission takes her on a trip out of Los Angeles, tracing clues about Randall's past back to Arizona. There she meets a handsome young man, Randy (Desmond Harrington), whose cynical anger at the world seems to closely parallel her own and the two soon discover that they have something they share that surpasses attitude.

MY FIRST MISTER is much more than a "coming of age" story. It is about how all of us come to terms -- with more than a little help from our friends.

A Total Film Group/Firelight Entertainment/Apollo Media co-production in Association with Film Roman, MY FIRST MISTER is directed by Christine Lahti, written by Jill Franklyn and produced by Carol Baum and Jane Goldenring, with Mitchell Solomon, Sukee Chew and Anne Kurtzman. Gerald Green and Frank Hubner are the executive producers.

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