Clemons, for her part, initially appears to be upending the modern day “quirky girl who gives loser guy reason to believe in life/love” trope. These roles are usually the purview of white women. Both Velocity and her close friend Karen the Dominatrix (played by Brianna Baker), a quirky supporting character, are African-descended biracial. We come to find though that these two ladies smash the problematic trope, but not in terms of casting.
Ted is looking for a savior outside of himself in the form of an extremely attractive, incredibly iconoclastic woman. That she is also 30 years his junior suggests he is also looking for male validation. The character though, is not that honest with himself. The film makes the relationship between Velocity and Ted clearly a platonic, paternalistic one. Ultimately he learns the hard and humiliating way that the only person who can save Ted, is Ted.
What is good about “An L.A. Minute” falls squarely in the laps of Byrne and Clemons, with excellent support from Baker as the dominatrix best friend. Clemons’ overall performance is uneven, but she has some great moments, especially as she finally reveals to Ted her true self. Byrne is steady and touching as a man with a good heart but low self-esteem and weak character, finally coming to grips with the detritus of his life. Velocity is perhaps supposed to represent a younger generation who enters the high-stakes media industry with a clear-eyed, dispassionate view as to how it works. Perhaps she is simply supposed to symbolize the fact that women like her—a woman of color who is young, incredibly intelligent, attractive, ambitious—can’t be trusted.
In many ways “An L.A. Minute” aspires to be an ode to Los Angeles in all its grit, glitz and glamour. There are as many scenes on the streets of Skid Row LA, teeming with the homeless, as there are in Malibu and Beverly Hills. One of the first scenes is a cringey one at a homeless shelter, where Ted’s publicist has set up a promotional visit for his latest book, about a homeless serial killer. There is a definite nod to the anxiety of well-heeled Angelinos at the already bad, and getting worse, issue of homelessness, but it never comes together. Instead it ends up seeming like a gratuitous walk of shame.