REVIEW / Honey, I psychologically damaged the kids

Jilly Hafenrichter, the producer of Hollywood Kids (ITV), has changed her name since she featured on the credits of last year's Hollywood Women (she was Hutchinson then). Perhaps she wanted to make a clean start, put the unseemly past behind her.

But it's no good, I'm afraid - her fingerprints are all over the film. The same frenzied cutting style, the same armlock on your opinions, the same indifference to the nuances of human expression. It's shallow, slick, and occasionally odious. Unfortunately it's also disgustingly compelling.

The subject last night was "Children of the Rich and Famous", an account of the high price of privilege, from the cradle ("A baby can't be a baby without Baby Dior!") to the rehab unit. Not very rich and famous, in truth; they were either too busy or toowell protected to talk. For all the gloss and money, the people here were Hollywood's needy, people hungry for the attention of the camera. Hungry enough, at least, to bite down on the poisoned bait offered by Hafenrichter's lens and lights. In that respect it was a loser's anthropology - balanced only by Jamie Lee Curtis, a woman who appeared to be in deep denial about the darker side of town (Hafenrichter contradicted her oddly strenuous protests with first-hand evidence from victims).

That it was a loser's account doesn't matter - this was the iceberg below the waterline, a reminder that what's visible necessarily submerges other lives. "Remember," the daughter of Loretta Young recalled her mother saying, "when you are in public you are a reflection of me." Ordinary parents think, or even say as much, but their solipsism isn't reinforced for the child by the barrage of flash-bulbs and an adoring public. Sometimes the reflection isn't what the star wants to see - there was a wincing passage in which the film cut between that grotesque denial of nature, Zsa Zsa Gabor, and her daughter, a plump girl who had cheerfully ignored her mother's advice on dieting but couldn't cheerfully ignore the contempt that inspired it.

It would have been nice to have some sense that Hollywood Kids could distinguish between those who've simply been affected and those who have affectations. But the brutality of the editorial style - rapid, sardonic cuts - effectively prevents discrimination or compassion, even when such feelings might be legitimate. In many cases you can't even tell how or why people are saying things, whether they are lying to themselves or trying to tell the truth.

It isn't that the style is bankrupt in itself - it can be used brilliantly for satirical effect, to highlight cliches of thought or to expose lies. Indeed, the film was at its best when exploring the vacuous complexities of Hollywood family life - not somuch nuclear as post-nuclear, the result of some awful chain-reaction of multiple divorces and remarriages, which ends up with siblings scattered all across town. "I'm anxious to meet her," said Kimber Eastwood of her new half-sister, "but our schedulesdon't allow it, as of now." She wasn't joking.

But Hollywood Kids doesn't really know the difference between satire and a freak-show - there's an awful sense of opportunistic glee in the face of distress, a moral numbness about the way it can't listen to anybody for any length of time. This was most conspicuous when Catya Sassoon came on screen. She also featured in Hollywood Women, and Hafenrichter obviously thought she could squeeze more out of her. Catya obligingly delivered a slurred condemnation of her father, her head lolling; "He kno ws how to be Vidal Sassoon,'' she said, "but he doesn't know how to be Dad." A kinder person might have looked away at this moment but the material was too good to pass over. Guaranteed box-office from one of the wannabes.

Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
'Youth' cast members Paul Dano, Jane Fonda, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, and Michael Caine pose for photographers at Cannes Film Festival
Arts and Entertainment
Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward and Robin in the 1960s Batman TV show

Arts and Entertainment
I am flute: Azeem Ward and his now-famous instrument
Arts and Entertainment
A glass act: Dr Chris van Tulleken (left) and twin Xand get set for their drinking challenge
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
MIA perform at Lovebox 2014 in London Fields, Hackney

Arts and Entertainment
Finnish punk band PKN hope to enter Eurovision 2015 and raise awareness for Down's Syndrome

Arts and Entertainment
William Shakespeare on the cover of John Gerard's The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes

Arts and Entertainment

Game of Thrones review
Arts and Entertainment
Grayson Perry dedicates his Essex home to Julie

Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treat

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the original Swedish version of the sci-fi TV drama ‘Real Humans’
Arts and Entertainment
Hugh Keays-Byrne plays Immortan Joe, the terrifying gang leader, in the new film
filmActor who played Toecutter returns - but as a different villain in reboot
Arts and Entertainment
Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road
Arts and Entertainment
Jessica Hynes in W1A
tvReview: Perhaps the creators of W1A should lay off the copy and paste function spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Power play: Mitsuko Uchida in concert

Arts and Entertainment
Dangerous liaisons: Dominic West, Jake Richard Siciliano, Maura Tierney and Leya Catlett in ‘The Affair’ – a contradictory drama but one which is sure to reel the viewers in
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Herring, pictured performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival two years ago
Arts and Entertainment
Music freak: Max Runham in the funfair band
Arts and Entertainment
film 'I felt under-used by Hollywood'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

    Abuse - and the hell that follows

    James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
    Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

    It's oh so quiet!

    The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
    'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

    'Timeless fashion'

    It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
    If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

    Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

    Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
    New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

    Evolution of swimwear

    From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine