It sounds like a painful concept that you'd find in a sleazy Hollywood comedy: a young nerd, fresh out of high school, befriends a has-been porno queen, falls madly in love, helps her out of a jam, and learns a few valuable life lessons in the progress. You could probably name all the key plot points and supporting characters without even seeing the film, right? That's certainly what the film festival guide's premise for Meet Monica Velour had me thinking. Fortunately I do not write reviews of film festival guide premises, which is why I watched the movie itself.

And, hey, it's actually quite a little winner, truth be told. Oh sure, it hits a few stumbling blocks here and there, given that it is a first-timer's feature after all, but overall I found myself touched and rather impressed by the flick's restraint, honesty, and emotional heft.

Film festivals are rife with films in which aging actresses shed their make-up, approve the close-ups, and get (physically / emotionally / professionally) abused for all the world to see. Sometimes it's a big-time Hollywood star who's itching for a little indie cred, and sometimes it's a slightly outdated TV actress who's more than happy to get grungy for a low-budget film. My point is this: it works like a charm ... sometimes. First-time writer / director Keith Bearden has Kim Cattrall in his corner, and wouldn't you know it -- the lady is just terrific here.