I wondered why someone would want to make a movie about a barely-was has-been, hooked on heroin, mad at the world, as she tries to rebuild a flimsy career in unlicensed Eastern European venues. The last 15 minutes, the film started to click, Nico’s voice sounded better, and I sort of appreciated the punkness of the director’s efforts and, if nothing else, the acting showcase it provided Trine Dyrholm. Not every painting is beautiful, nor is every life.
An early frontrunner for Worst Film of the Year: cliched acting, flat directing, a void of a plot (“Lisa’s Bad Day” was the sum and substance of the story), visually uninteresting setting, and generally unappealing characters. There was not a single one of the disjointed scenes that connected with me or didn’t make me wish I were watching TV instead. Some audience members laughed uproariously – at what? – and all three papers we read gave it a good review, so there is no accounting for taste. I kept waiting for something to connect; it never did.
Kudos to Spike Lee, who masterfully tells a story and envelops it in a personal statement about racism in America, past and present. Adam Driver has never been better, and there are fun roles for Steve Buscemi’s younger brother, Harry Belafonte and the goofy guy from I,Tonya. There’s a prologue and an epilogue that, strictly speaking, don’t belong in the movie about Ron Stallworth, but they add gravitas, and current relevance, to a story that might otherwise be hard to take seriously. When I read a piece in the next day’s Times about a Midwestern audience watching the new Dinesh D’Souza movie, I felt I was back in Colorado Springs.
Maybe it’s just that I wasn’t shocked, or even surprised, that 45 years ago someone engineered a study of twins separated at birth, or that an adoption agency wouldn’t tell the adoptive parents about the twins, or that one of the reunited triplets would eventually go his own way and have emotional issues, or maybe it’s just that I didn’t enjoy spending time with this particular group of people. For whatever reason, despite its constantly noted self-importance, the film left me cold. What most struck me, in fact, was the media’s obsession with the story of the triplets, how they piled on, one after the other. And it’s hard to imagine so much being made of this today; were the early ’80s just simpler times?
Excruciating and exquisite at the same time, this movie walks a fine line beautifully: we see Kayla Day at her most unattractive, yet we like her all the same. She has enough acne to be real, but not so much that we look away. And if anybody doesn’t identify with at least one scene, if not many, they have surely forgotten what it was like to be 14. Josh Hamilton’s Dad is a bouncy counterpoint, keeping things light; and the movie’s use of social media is so today, just perfect. I don’t think I’m the target audience for this film, but I loved it.
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