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STUDIO: Peace Arch Home Entertainment
RUNNING TIME: 96 min
An American mother goes to South Africa to save her junkie son.
Melissa Leo, Lisa-Marie Schneider and Kyle Seibert
Melissa Leo had a good year in 2008. Coming off the success of Frozen River, she’s sitting in the spotlight and enjoying the attention. Leo made other movies in the last year. Lullaby is one of the various indie productions that Leo found herself in. The tale of an American mother who has to procure five thousand dollars to save her son from a South African drug lord is rather familiar. What changes the story is how Leo forms a connection with a pregnant South African prostitute.
The Anna Paquin look is popular amongst most of the South African hookers.
When I first finished the film, I sat back and tried to process it. I wanted to say that it was an interesting look at what a parent would do for their child. I wanted to find parallels between Melissa Leo’s quest and that of the pregnant hooker. But, all I saw was a dime store crime novel dressed up in a foreign land. That doesn’t make this a bad film.
What Lullaby manages to accomplish is to make you care about Melissa Leo. When you see her frustration about getting the wrong kind of currency for her son’s ransom money, it’s real. The look of anguish on her face over making such a silly mistake and realizing the consequences places you in her shoes. But, before you can get carried away by Leo, there’s the pregnant hooker. She’s the walking embodiment of every crime drama stereotype since the first gun moll was introduced.
The film falls apart because you feel that director Darrell Roodt is trying to raise awareness of some social issue in South Africa. But, are all issues in South Africa similar to bad plotlines from Law & Order: Special Victims Unit? Roodt directed the masterful Yesterday and he seemed to play well in the small sandbox of the social drama. It’s just that I would go so far as to say he was overwhelmed. There’s much action and too much motion for such a small-time filmmaker.
The film is such a tricky bitch to appreciate. The third act changes and the forced attempt to identify with the pregnant hooker was a bit much. I want to blame a lot of this on outside manipulation. But, reading up on Roodt’s approach to the film…you see the truth. It seemed like he felt he was making a modern ghetto Madonna story. Whether he succeeded or not, I’ll leave up to you. I enjoyed the ride.
Lullaby comes to DVD with a rather weak offering. Hell, there wasn’t even time to get an official rating for North American release. I would’ve liked to have seen the bare offering of a trailer on the disc. But, we weren’t good enough to even get that. Therefore, I have a difficult time even recommending the film for a rental.
Melissa Leo knows that only one thing can turn you from an Oscar nominee to an Oscar winner. That’s fake crying to the cops after you beat your hooker half to death.
There are no supplemental materials on this disc.
Lita Ford and Mickey Rourke got all Brundlefly.
6.3 out of 10