Written and Directed by Jason Reitman
Editing by Thelma Schoonmaker
Cinematography by Rodrigo Prieto
Original Score by Phillip Glass
Aaron Eckhart as Quincy Scalanti
Zac Efron as Daryl Cooper
Paul Dano as Brad Williamson
Jada Pinkett Smitt as Marcia Jones
Derek Luke as Mike Jones
Drea de Matteo as Melina Lombardi
Gael Garcia Bernal as Fernando Suarez
Mia Maestro as Paula Suarez
Adriana Barraza as Lucia Suarez
Milla Jovovich as Amber Evans / “The Silent Mistress”
Chris Cooper as Johnny Taylor
Tagline: "Now playing everywhere… but your local Cineplex"
Synopsis: A controversial look at the distribution cycle of film piracy in Hollywood through the eyes of the different intermediaries involved:
QUINCY SCALANTI (Eckhart) is the American cult film director by excellence; his four movies have made him a household name for the studios and one of the most popular filmmakers in the world. He was even up for an Academy Award last year (and he can’t still get over the fact that he lost). His past commercial success earned him complete creative freedom during the production of “The Silent Mistress,” a bloody martial arts adventure starring the equally famous (and narcissistic) Amber Evans as a woman seeking revenge for her daughter’s murder. A week before the film’s release, Quincy is ready to start the mandatory promotion tour across America but things are not going exactly as he had hoped…
JOHNNY TAYLOR (Cooper) is the head of Dynamo Studios, the powerful film company in charge of distributing “The Silent Mistress” nationwide; Taylor fell in love with Scalanti’s concept at their pitch meeting almost a year ago but ever since though, nothing had been pleasant between them. The latest test screenings have turned out disastrous for the film and with over sixty millions invested in production and advertising, Taylor fears he’s about to drop a bomb…
[The Silent Mistress (Jovovich) swordfights her enemy, she struggles for a while and finally, fulfills her revenge...] Credits start rolling, “Directed by Quincy Scalanti” appears on screen and then, all goes black: DARYL COOPER (Efron) turns off his camera and we find ourselves inside a movie theater. BRAD WILLIAMSON (Dano) looks around as the awkward audience leaves the Sneak Peek quickly. Daryl is an average teenager who enjoys watching movies and making an extra-income out of them; Brad is an aspiring screenwriter trying to get money for film school. They met FERNANDO SUAREZ (Garcia Bernal), a bootleg movie vendor from Mexico, a year ago while they were searching for a cheap DVD copy of “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy in Downtown LA. Fernando introduced them to the business and they soon became his providers. For film buff Brad, movie piracy was worst than murder but his need for money turned him into an obsessive bootlegger, Daryl didn’t care much about the legal issues of movie piracy but he did care for Fernando’s sister: PAULA (Maestro). Every week or two, they would visit Fernando to give him their latest recordings. Fernando would then burn them into hundreds of DVDs, prepare them for local distribution and also, take them to Mexico. In the meantime, Paula was responsible of taking care of Lucia (Barraza), their ill mother. Daryl fell in love with Paula quickly and as they are becoming closer, Brad is becoming more desperate for money and he is willing to do whatever it takes to enroll in film school…
MPAA executive MARCIA JONES (Pinkett Smith) has never gotten anything for free but now, well established as a film censor; she can afford a luxury or two (Including supporting her brother Mike). Marcia has just received a DVD screener of “The Silent Mistress” for additional reviewing but has been busy on a confidential case about online piracy to watch it yet. Secretly, her brother MIKE (Luke) burns these licensed DVDs to his computer and sells them on his website NotPlaying.com.
Entertainment reporter MELINA LOMBARDI (de Matteo) has always dreamed about becoming a respected journalist, her boss has just assigned her a story that could help her do it: the increase of movie piracy in America. She heads to Downtown with her crew to tape the bootleg vendors in action and spots Fernando. She is sure she has found her big story (and she is right, her report would turn into the most discussed subject of the week on national media).
Quincy Scalanti is devastated: a couple of days before “The Silent Mistress” debuts; critics are unanimously calling it the worst film of the year. He is proud enough to hide his fears behind an arrogant attitude and recurrent sniffs of coke but he can’t hide from Johnny Taylor’s rage. Taylor is furious; Quincy’s over-the-top direction will cost him millions and to make things worst, impatient fanboys are already downloading the film!. Quincy can’t handle the media pressure but he can’t stay away from it. As he watches an entertainment news show in his bedroom, he catches Melina Lombardi’s story… He can’t believe his film is out on the streets for sale at $4!
From that moment, the characters connect directly or indirectly and we are led to the film’s bittersweet conclusion: Will Melinda’s acclaimed story launch her to the top? What will happen to Marcia when the MPAA and the FBI discovers her brother is the one to blame for the computerized piracy? Will Johnny Taylor save his company and reputation? How far will the relationship between Daryl and Paula go? How far will Brad go to attain his goal? And most importantly, Will ‘The Silent Mistress” flop… or not?
What the press would say:
Unconventional! That’s the only way we can describe Jason Reitman’s riveting tragicomedy “Bootleg:” an ensemble masterpiece with many and none agendas at the same time. It’s a terrific film study about Hollywood’s worst nightmare: movie piracy, and it is accomplished to award-worthy results by its cast and crew. Reitman provides us with all the elements we need to empathize with his universe of characters but never tries to manipulate us into liking their life choices. Instead, Reitman adds pathos and motivations to each intermediary and allows us to judge for ourselves if we approve their actions or not. This decision is what ultimately makes the film work, Reitman stays away from the anti-movie piracy speech and instead; presents the problem and explores its causes and consequences with a smarter approach than his previous directorial effort "Thank You For Smoking"
Aaron Eckhart (playing wonderfully against type) creates a brilliant personality as the egomaniac and Tarantino-esque director Quincy Scalanti, Eckhart is hilarious on each of his scenes but his natural depth shines on the most dramatic moments where his character must battle his inner demons. The rest of the ensemble is also outstanding: Drea de Matteo is a perfect cast as the ruthless reporter Melina Lombardi; she glows on every scene (especially on those hilarious moments where her character’s overconfidence is revealed). Paul Dano reinvents himself as the ambitious and deceiving Brad (a coveted role that all Young Hollywood auditioned for) and Chris Cooper steals the show as the no-nonsense studio chief Johnny Taylor (particularly on every scene he shares with Eckhart's Scalanti).
The inherent legal issues of movie piracy are smartly given a secondary role against the moral conflicts in Reitman’s witty screenplay, making the film transcend the more than likely debate and become one of the most inspiring and though-provoking films of the year. Intermediaries are punished but the start and end of the cycle remain undefeated because a problem like movie piracy can’t be solved in two and a half hours, not even in Hollywood…
With almost ninety millions on the american box-office alone, “Bootleg” has also earned the audience’s acclaim and now, as we get closer to the announcement of the Oscar nominations, it should be considered for the following awards:
Best Picture (AMPAS)
Best Picture – Drama (HFPA)
Best Cast (SAG)
Best Director – Jason Reitman
Best Original Screenplay
Best Actor – Aaron Eckhart
Best Supporting Actor – Chris Cooper
Best Supporting Actor – Paul Dano
Best Supporting Actress – Drea de Matteo