Directed by John Herzfeld. Starring Robert De Niro, Edward Burns, Karl Roden, Oleg Taktarov, Vera Farmiga, Melina Kanakaredes, Kelsey Grammer, Avery Brooks.

Written and directed by John Herzfeld, 'Fifteen Minutes', as the Warhol reference suggests, is a look at the lure of transient fame, here articulated through a mix of the detective and thriller genres. The plot takes as its starting point the arrival into the US of two Eastern Europeans (Karel Roden and Oleg Taktarov), confidently expecting to live out their own particular take on the American dream. However, they soon find themselves at the centre of a hyper-real and violent, but potentially lucrative, nightmare. Robert De Niro and Edward Burns co-star as two very different investigators, both in terms of work ethic and attitude to the media. They team up in pursuit of the celebrity-hungry criminals and develop a mutual sense of admiration along the way.

This tale is played out through stories that are dragged together with an increasing lack of credibility. Most of the actors either look bored at having been cast to type, or appear to have wandered into the wrong movie. While Burns' character comes the closest to transcending a two-dimensional existence, most of the female characters are primarily used as decoration. The odd moment of quirky humour provides a welcome distraction.

'Fifteen Minutes' self-consciously employs a multitude of techniques to convey a sense of a frenetic, media-saturated modern world and to focus attention on the related themes of stardom, power and money. However, its attempt to synthesise a very mixed bag of ingredients, which could have resulted in a thought-provoking juxtaposition, is continuously let down by a total lack of subtlety. Rather than an incisive social commentary, this is a sprawling mess of a movie, un-focused, un-engaging and basically irritating.

Siobhan Mannion