App. # 727.07/CTS7.5
Point of Origin Sony-Columbia, via 360 Pictures
Passage Via Lohan, Lindsay
Hollywood loves to latch onto a trend and wring all life and dollar from it, obviously. With Lindsay Lohan we may have a performer locked into a similar obsession with content. You see a number of her titles rooted in a duality of characters; from the The Parent Trap, to Freaky Friday, and even Lucky You, where she swaps her good fortune with an unlucky mook. Adding to that collection we have this misfire, where Lohan plays either a girl with split personalities, delusions of character, OR twins long separated. The effect is a movie where the actress fails on more than two levels.
During production on IKWKM the troubled actress was deep into her spiral of shame. Bad career moves led to a series of bad personal choices. By 2006 she was well underway with her side career of DUI convictions — even being fitted with a SCRAM house-arrest device. On the career front her problems grew in scale while her film roles diminished. While filming “Georgia Rule” she became a problem, reportedly showing up late for shoots and missing several days for self-diagnosed “exhaustion”. This led to the head of Morgan Creek Productions to send her a letter which he made public, declaring her illness to be closer to Jaeger-cough.
Early in 2007 she pulled herself out of A Woman of No Importance during one half-hearted cleanup attempt. Next she was forced out of The Edge of Love because producers could not get insurance coverage on the problematic actress. Then she had been dropped from Poor Things after twice halting the shoot because of DUI accidents followed by rehab stays. It was obvious she had more issues than a newsstand.
During this calamitous stretch she made IKWKM in the winter of 2006-07. Some thought this was a daring attempt, an effort to reestablish herself as a notable actress. The edgy plot and her portrayal of a stripper was thought a jarring career gambit.
Except . . .
We are not dealing with a serious adult drama here. This is little more than a tawdry horror film with a story that careens like a drunk driver off the thematic guardrails of gore and exploitation, while mowing down artistic barricades. This is not a role to be taken seriously; this is a performance that engenders pity, or confirmation of personal demons. Also evident is the inexperience behind the camera. The plot is not only forced and laughable but the direction is overwrought and amateurish. Normally it would have been fortunate to garner a weak DVD release. The writer and director (their names are of no consequence) made a sub-par product; however their film was granted a studio wide release because Lohan starred.
Basically, while they are at fault she is to blame.
VALIDATION for PASSAGE
To begin we get a shot of a puddle, with red and blue lights reflecting on the surface. A standard opening in most movies however red and blue are going to become important. Make that, RED and BLUE are going to be important. Cinematically color can be used gracefully to buttress a central premise, metaphorically applied to augment a narrative and underscore themes. Here we will become bludgeoned by these colors. Instead of leitmotif it becomes metric-ton-motif. The effect is of someone constantly elbowing you, saying, “Hey, didja see that?! See how everything was blue there??? That’s kinda important, and junk!”
The frame pans and we see the sign for a strip club. A nude female is rendered in neon tubing. An arm and leg from the lurid logo flickers due to a bad transformer. This is a blunt piece of symbolism given we have a story involving a serial killer who dismembers his female victims. Just half a minute in and we have a semester’s worth of film school workshop techniques spilled onto our laps. “Class, after the allegorical application of color I want to see the use of foreshadowing in the visual context.” Owls will figure heavily as well, but they are no more than a cheap tool to get a plot point revealed later.
Instantly the provocative imagery is tossed our way. Well . . . sort of provocative. Lohan struts onto stage to perform in the strip club, bathed in red light. She’s in a red dress, red lingerie, and red gloves, in case you have not picked up on the theme – which is RED. The initial feeling you get is one of ribald excitement; the former child star dispensing her Disney-esque persona now having blossomed into adulthood. But this is neither an erotic display nor a performance of seduction. Lohan prepped for the role by training with Sheila Kelly, the former actress who developed S-Factor, a pole-dance workout regimen. (Lindsay’s gave her an insight on strippers, reportedly telling the NY Post, “I really respect The Cunts now!”) The result is Lohan’s performance is less sexy than worthy a performance for a weight-loss contraption info-mercial. Never shedding her foundation garments also detracts from the sensuality.
Fade out to a new scene. We see Lohan again, but this time in a classroom, reading an assignment. She is Aubrey Fleming, a completely different person. This conclusion comes from a conservative pony-tail and her wearing glasses. Her writing is about a girl with the ability turn her life into a movie, watching somebody who looks exactly like her but is different, or some such blather. It is simple-headed scribbling, but then this is a high schooler.
Despite the infantile prose we are sold that Aubrey is a brilliant writer. Oh, and she’s also a brilliant pianist, AND she’s been admitted to Yale! Yea, didn’t I tell you that? See, she’s being tutored on the ivories and when the landscaper distracts her the instructor reminds her of the upcoming “Young Artists Competition”. Oh wait, I forgot: Aubrey’s so brilliant she previously won that generically-named contest. Anyway, she tells the teacher she has lost interest in the piano and needs to focus all of her attention on her teen-romance-novel writing skills. During this time we get force-fed the color motif once again, with everything from the freakish hairless cat, and the teacher’s Liberace ring sporting blue.
The director has shit-hammered us with so much of the hue in a few moments I’m half surprised this wasn’t titled “Cerulean Velvet”. And it continues. At school Aubrey’s quarterback boyfriend toddles up with a signature blue rose. In biology class, while dissecting worms, he tries to feel up Aubrey while wearing blue gloves. (Smearing night-crawler entrails on her designer jeans is no way to get her to put out!)
During this we get flashes of info involving missing girls. There’s news that a girl’s body was found, courtesy of a serial killer. That night at the big football game the stadium announcer decides to get the crowd pumped up by mentioning the dead girl, having a moment of silence, and then shrieking to the crowd “Let’s go win this one for Jennifer!!!!!!!” Um, bad form there, bud. After winning the game if the killer is a football booster won’t he be inspired to keep on killing so they go on to have a perfect season, dumbass?!
During the game the whole color theme hits new levels of oppression. It’s not enough that the team colors are azure. In case the blue theme has been impossible to notice we see Aubrey blowing a kiss to her horny QB, and the director has the print digitally drop all color except for anything in blue. ENOUGH! We GET IT! I mean, holy shit already! When you have to even display somebody drinking out of a styrofoam cup that is tinted blue you literally have nothing pertinent to say with this technique!
After the game Aubrey wanders away from her friends to find her man. Later he meets her friends without her, so everyone panics and they find her blue car with the blue rose on the dashboard. Cut to the lair of our mystery antagonist, with Aubrey bound and gagged. (Just to clarify, the gag was blue.) His methods involve pressing her hand between blocks of dry ice and then removing a finger with a homemade glass device. The FBI is brought in and then, despite a number of missing girls already, there is a massive manhunt to find Aubrey. (I guess the other girls were just no good at piano and fan-fiction.)
That night Aubrey is found on a remote road and ends up in the hospital. Except, all is not good. For starters, she lost half an arm and leg. Secondly she insists that she is not Aubrey but Dakota Moss. Is she a manifestation of Aubrey’s imagination, or is she adopting the role of one of her story characters as a coping device? She tells a therapist her tale of growing up with a crack-whore mother and having to struggle to survive. Fortunately this psychiatrist uses Bic 4-color pens so he can follow the red/blue theme as he takes notes.
The FBI starts grilling Dakota about what happened and for some reason this leads to a flashback of more un-erotic dancing. Lindsay takes a cigarette from a patron and rubs it over her crotch, leading him to take it back and smell it. That was foolish – like her taint doesn’t already smell like cigarettes! Oddly this film is starting to feel like a segment of LiLo’s “E! True Hollywood Story”.
During this segment there is an allusion to the killer visiting the club that night, but this unravels all mystique hoped for. If he was there it proves Dakota is a different person, not a figment of Aubrey’s imagination. It also means the killer is aware they are twins. Oddly the FBI angrily interrogates Aubrey/Dakota like a criminal and not a dismembered victim, but what do I know — I didn’t graduate from Quantico. They are going with the delusional-personality theory, so it will take a while for them to catch up.
There is a gripping scene where Aubrey is tortured and we see Dakota in the hospital manifest the same wound spontaneously, leading to gripping overacting. Next Dakota gets outfitted with a new $6 million hand, courtesy of the most Fly prosthetic technician on the planet.
They bring Dakota home and it is a giant wad of awkward. The hunky QB comes sniffing around, toting a dozen blue roses for the robotically-altered Dakota. As bizarre as their encounter is he’s no less insistent on having sex, and Dakota takes him upstairs to comply. While they loudly romp Mom tries blotting out the sounds with furious cleaning of the sink. Next is another strip club flashback, where backstage Dakota starts having a finger get bloody and it falls off. Instead of a hospital visit she is content to wrap her hand in a towel and take the bus home, where she sews her own finger back on.
This memory somehow provokes Dakota to go into detective mode. She visits the parents of the first victim and is allowed to snoop in the girl’s room. She spies a trophy on a shelf she cannot reach and then . . . and then . . . nothing. Later she uses Aubrey’s computer and logs in using the password DAKOTA. Amusingly she goes to AskJeeves.com to research “Bleeding wounds unexplained”, the orchestra swelling loudly on the soundtrack. Yes, you won’t be able to sit during the gripping, dramatic search-engine scenes!
Dakota comes across a video from radio conspiracy whack-job Art Bell. His “Coast to Coast” program used to have any root-cellar-dwelling nutzoid calling in with details of alien visitations, or their collection of Bigfoot scat in the basement. The fact that this movie uses Bell to explain the outlandish plot points tells us everything about this fiasco.
Now the film not only goes off the rails but barrels down the path of moronic bliss. Dakota tells “Mom” she’s a twin so “Mom” breaks out the sonogram video showing one kid in the womb, while “Dad” looms in the shadows SUSPICIOUSLY! Upstairs Dakota reaches for one of Aubrey’s trophies but cannot reach it. Seriously, what the hell with the trophies?! She has a vision of Aubrey getting hit with a shovel and she feels the pain. This of course leads her to confront “Dad” that she now knows the truth: Their original baby died at birth and he secretly purchased a spare twin from Dakota’s crackhead mom at the hospital. (Rather permissive neonatal ward there.)
The Dad denies her charges, then tells her he cannot let this story get out — meaning he will let Aubrey die just to preserve his secret??? Also, he was just fine spending a fortune outfitting a skank stranger with prosthetic limbs. Anyway, Dakota goes to find her twin and she comes across Aubrey’s grave. (Uh, when was the funeral???) On it she finds the blue ribbon from her “Young Artists” competition ribbon, and this explains the color theme of this movie.
That’s it?!?!?! That’s your big color theme in this whole affair??? BLUE = 1st place, RED = 2nd place????? You know something, Mr. Director? You suck! You don’t even deserve one of Gaylord Fokker’s 9th place ribbons, you hack!
ANY-way . . .
Dad shows up at the grave, Dakota hands him the ribbon, and suddenly they know – they just KNOW – who the killer is. They go to the remote cabin of the piano teacher. I guess he kills off former students who give up Chopin, but it is never explained. Dad snuffs it but Dakota manages to cut the guy’s hand off, and then kills him with one of his glass weapons. She and Aubrey use their wonder-twin powers to realize Aubrey is buried alive, and an owl helps Dakota find the spot in the woods. She digs her up for a happy ending.
I swear to you, all of that happened.
QUOTES FROM REFERENCES
- Dakota(to psychiatrist): Why does a shrink need your Social Security number? You’re fuzz, aren’t you?
- Dakota (to stranger on the bus, referencing her bloody hand) Aren’t you going to ask me what happened?
- Stranger: People get cut. That’s life.
- Passage lifted verbatim from Aubrey’s Story: Somewhere in the back of her mind she’d been hoping she biological mother would turn out to be, oh, Cameron Diaz or Gwen Stefani.
With such a blatantly weak product it seems amazing to consider a studio giving this thing a serious rollout into theaters. This needed to be shown at a variety of film festivals so the makers could absorb the criticism and adjust their talents accordingly. Instead they were told they made a serious movie, which was ultimately laughed out of theaters. As a result we are served a story courtesy of a one-time script writer, and a director with no filmography worth noting. And Lindsay Lohan’s impact means this title ultimately left a crater. At least now we know who killed her career.
APPLICATION STATUS APPROVED