Monday, April 6, 2009

Lost and Delirious

Who said that teenager films can't be good? Léa Pool's Lost and Delirious is a proof that teenager films, as a genre, can honour the big screen. Although it is admittedly sad, it smartly captures adolescence crisis. What is love? What does it mean be in transition from adolescence to adulthood? All these questions are well inserted into a story that unfolds before our eyes and effortlessly forces us to watch it even though nothing good is going to happen.

We begin the story by following Mary (Mischa Barton), a shy and quiet girl nicknamed "Mouse", who has been sent to an all-girl boarding school. As she is the person through whom we see the story, we learn that she becomes the roommate of Tori (Jessica Paré) and Paulie (Piper Perabo). These two accept her and a friendship grows between the three of them. On one day, Mary sees from afar Tory and Paulie kissing each other. Besides, Mary believes that they were "practising for boys".

However during the night, while Mary pretends to sleep, she no longer has any doubts when Tori and Paulie make love. While Mary has nothing to do with it, other students are spreading the gossip that Paulie is an unrecommended acquaintance because of her sexual preference. At the same time, even though Tori still has feelings for Paulie (in her thoughts), she publicly breaks up with her in order to be with a boy from another school, because Tori doesn't want her peers (and also her conservative parents) to think that she is "like that".

As the observer of Paulie's and Tori's love, Mary (to our great surprise) accepts their homosexuality. As the story advances, Mary comes of age (despite looking like a first-year student) by showing us an unsuspected maturity. As a matter of fact, she doesn't hesitate to show support for Paulie who has the most difficulty to deal with the break-up. Indeed, Paulie is going through a psychological depression. After all, unlike Tori who relies on her bisexuality (and her internalized homophobia that shows up in front of social pressure) to save her face, Paulie has no exit strategy because she can't love someone as much as she loves Tori.

From that previously drawn observation, the film plays on many layers of subtlety and shades of grey. Such a question makes Paulie the most interesting characters of all. Piper Perabo plays really well a character who passes off as a tough girl, but from the way she deals with the unwanted break-up, "she’s [in reality] as delicate as an exposed nerve" in the words of one of my fellow movie bloggers. Without revealing too much of the story, we see that as the film advances, life becomes unbearable for Paulie because of her need for Tori's love. Besides, unlike Tori who lives in denial (of her homosexuality), Paulie is a character who wants to live life the way she sees it fit.

Finally, although the film may seem too abstract because of its references to Shakespeare and its nature of tragedy, Lost and Delirious is a must. Its strength relies mostly on the outstanding performance of the three leading actresses, especially from Perabo. While Jessica Paré (Stardom) plays well an unsympathetic character who is not as flashy as Paulie, Mischa Barton, on the other hand, shows us that not only she could act, but there also was a time when she wanted to be taken seriously.

Rating: 4.5/5

Lost and Delirious
Origin:Canada (2001)
Length:103 minutes
Genre:Romantic drama
Screenplay:Judith Thompson
Director:Léa Pool
Piper Perabo, Jessica Paré, Mischa Barton, Jackie Burroughs, Mimi Kuzyk, Graham Greene, Luke Kirby and Emily Vancamp

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