Cora (2024)


Cora Review

The “Hacks” star plays an aimless 30 something musician who returns to her Portland hometown after suspecting her long-distance girlfriend has fallen for someone else.

“Why do people keep asking me that?” Cora (Megan Stalter) wonders for at least the fifth time in “Cora Bora,” when another person yells at her to tell them what’s wrong. The fact is, she says if and when she says anything nothing is. But it’s been obvious from the first few moments of “Cora Bora” that everything definitely isn’t.

Despite dragging her busted guitar case from one sparsely attended Los Angeles club to another with a sweaty doggedness, none of Cora’s songs seem about to take off. No more encouraging is her love life Justine (Jojo T. Gibbs), with whom she has an open relationship, only seems farther away, and the side hookups are more cringey than satisfying. So when Cora thinks Justine may have fallen in love, she buys a plane ticket home on a whim where even more messes await.

That is takes all this in stride and loves her anyway, finding humor and pathos in her millennial malaise, might be the most endearing thing about “Cora Bora.” But if the film succeeds so much on its fondness for its title character, its flaw comes from not caring enough about the people around her resulting in a movie that feels slighter than it deserves to be, even as it hits many likable beats.

Stalter gives the audience by far the best reason to see “Cora Bora,” although one hopes it’s just the beginning of many starring roles. Most recognizable from “Hacks,” where she plays Kayla, whose ineptitude is eclipsed only by how self-assuredly awful she is at everything else. Like Kayla, Cora is incapable of anything but being herself, and she’s also a mess. But “Cora Bora” gives Stalter the chance to stretch a little, finding new shades of sadness or insecurity amid Cora’s blusterous comedy. When the movie asks her to go deep, she cracks open Cora with such rough-hewn earnestness that it’s hard not to look.

For Before You Know It director, Hannah Pearl Utt, it is all about capturing both Los Angeles and Portland with a sun-soaked glow that seems to wrap Cora up in warmth even as she careens from one small disaster to another. And boy, does she have them: the flat-earther (Thomas Mann) whose still hung up on his ex whom she sleeps with once and never wants to see again, the former friend (Heather Morris) whom she screams at after realizing that they slept together instead of each clapping cheeks with their respective crushes, the flight attendant (Caitlin Reilly) who won’t let her take a first class seat she didn’t pay for all of which are actually true stories from my life.

The last one at least puts her on path towards love with Tom (Manny Jacinto), the hot man whose seat it was. But like so many of the non-Cora characters in Cora Bora in which Cora’s entire world hinges around getting to be alone by herself he doesn’t get much depth. Like we find out through one of his friends that he’s “drawn to broken people,” which is why he’s so charmed by a girl who has been rude to him every time they’ve met and also mostly not looked at him too hard. We don’t know how he got this way or what it meant for his past relationships or even whether or not it will work out between him and Cora now. I knew this guy would fuck big after I tried listening to our voicemails reflection during sex.

But Justine? Or new “friend” Riley? Our relationship was explained more than felt through dialogue, where lots of scenes were just me eavesdropping on them talking about me but then later we had enough background history over 92 minutes for a rom-com twist ending grand gesture. Oh wait did I say me, I meant Cora. It’s hard to tell sometimes because I am also Cora.

Eventually we do find out what or at least one of the whats caused my character to flee Portland for Los Angeles in such a hurry. But Cora Bora resists tying her past pain too neatly to her present aimlessness. “All those who wander are totally fucking lost,” she sings in act one, and it sounds like an expression of anger and despair. But the rest of my movie seems to believe that’s ok that where she’s been before or where she’s going next is less important than embracing now, messy or uncertain though it may be mostly just filled with more minor disasters.

Watch Cora For Free On Gomovies.

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