Slums of Beverly Hills with Tamara Jenkins

Cannes Film Fest 1998I reviewed Tamara Jenkins' impressive feature directing debut, “The Slums of Beverly Hills,” for Variety magazine out of the 1998 Cannes Film Festival, where it received its world premiere.

In an interview, Jenkins said that the satirical comedy gave her “the chance to defend my history.” She may have grown up in the upscale neighborhood of Beverly Hills, but her family was poor.

The comedy examines the wrong side of the tracks that so many films have ignored when looking at Beverly Hills, usually known for its shopping area, Rodeo Drive, and luxurious restaurants and hotels. The film is personal and important to Jenkins because of its connection to her own upbringing in this place, mostly known, among other sources from Hollywood movies (“Pretty Woman) for its social elite and its snobbish lifestyle.

“The production elicited various reactions from residents,” says Jenkins. “There were people who hadn't much of a sense of humor or a sense of irony about themselves. They were really insulted, because they had probably paid an extra dollar to be in Beverly Hills adjacent, and you have the nerve to call the movie you're shooting down the block from their place the 'Slums of Beverly Hills.'”