Sex…dysfunction…addiction…everybody's got a habit.
A recent exchange during dinner:
"I just watched a pretty bad movie, a chick flick. I don't know why I
got it…actually, I do. I asked for it. Not sure why. It did have full
I have a touch of guilt about this review, for the DVD is absolutely overflowing with praise the film received during its release. Sorry, I just don't see it that way.
Facts of the Case
Lilly (introducing Jade Henham!), an intriguingly attractive woman and slightly lost soul, is Gene's (Sam Bottoms, Seabiscuit) mistress. She's at his beck and call, for Gene is her only source of income. Lilly doesn't work, but instead visits Gene to help him satisfy the urges his wife cannot. Gene, an older man, enjoys getting together with Lilly, for she agrees to let him videotape their intimate encounters. To make it all the more erotic, Gene also enjoys dressing up as a woman.
Though not completely happy with her situation, Lilly is content enough to maintain the arrangement. But all that changes when she and her best friend, Andrea (Essence Atkins, Deliver Us From Eva), go out drinking one night. While sitting at the bar, Lilly soon finds the bartender, Mick, and his friend, Luke, putting the moves on her. Oddly, she finds Luke quite charming, and they begin to see each other.
Luke is wonderful, everything Lilly could want. She's attracted to his mind and his body, and now she has to come to terms with her arrangement with Gene. Lilly has to figure out what she wants from herself and thus whom she wants to spend the rest of her days with. As Lilly works up the courage to sever ties with Gene, Luke makes a shocking announcement.
What will happen to Lillian?
You'll never stumble across a movie that is a better example of a chick flick. It has everything in it that a woman would love…and, thusly, little that a man can relate to. I made a mistake in requesting this film, for I am not its intended audience. As such, I apologize for the upcoming negativity of this review, but it's what I got out of the experience. While many others have praised this independent film, I can only say I was solidly bored by this unrealistic fairy tale. Though the running time is a slim 83 minutes, I took me well over two hours to plod my way through this dull and dreary mess. I couldn't find anything to keep me interested. With each passing minute, I had to force myself to sit still and face the TV. But I did make it, and I can only say I'm glad it's over.
This movie is a ridiculous fairy tale. I believe it's meant to be a message to women to take control of their lives, to be self sufficient, to do what it takes to be happy, to find true love, yet the setting is thoroughly contrived and phony. Looking Through Lillian presents our mistress with two polar opposite sets of circumstances, Gene and Luke. These two men are matter and antimatter, good and evil, right and wrong. They are the embodiment of every woman's mythos: the illusionary Mr. Right and the dreaded Mr. Wrong.
Gene is Mr. Wrong, the perfect Mr. Wrong. He has no true concern for Lillian, shows no empathy for her, knows nothing about her, and is cold, heartless, unemotional, and solely interested in himself and his desires. He uses Lillian to further his own needs without any sliver of thought for our lady. From the female perspective, his is the utter manifestation of the man your mother always warned you about. Mr. Wrong gives you nothing and takes everything in turn.
Then you have Luke, Mr. Right. This man has it all, yet he is such a giving person. Everything he does seems to come from the urge to satisfy and nurture a woman. This man reads poetry, cooks, is impeccably groomed, and is quite handsome and rugged. He surprises Lilly with gifts and lathers her with attention. He talks to her, listens to what she has to say, and asks for nothing in return. He wants to take the time to develop the relationship and is in no rush for intimacy. Luke enjoys simply kissing and snuggling. He cares. He's tall, dark, and handsome, and is the boy your mom always hoped you'd bring home one day.
In the real world, you'd never stumble across such a flawless example of a Mr. Wrong or a Mr. Right, let alone one person having one of each in her life, at the same time. As a result, I couldn't buy into Lillian's predicament. I understand the message that was being poured over me, but I didn't care. Such a weak-willed, wishy-washy woman given such an obvious choice doesn't appeal to me. I never felt any real pain or turmoil from her, just a level of discomfort. Her life's tragedy wasn't an engaging story. As well, as shoddy as the setting is, our actors do it even less justice with their performances. In far too many instances, I was further jolted from the tale by erratically stilted performances. I was not impressed by one single actor in the film. They didn't breathe any life into their caricatures. An improbable tale portrayed in a mediocre fashion is not a winner.
Unfortunately, this disc is laden with bonus materials, further torturing me by making me suffer through a couple more hours of related features. As with the movie, not a single special feature was of any interest to me. I wanted nothing further to do with the film, yet I was forced to watch more. I had to sit through the audio commentary track with film critic Wade Major, director Jake Torem, and Jade Henham; I had to watch three deleted scenes (an alternate ending, a boutique scene, and a restaurant scene); I hated having to watch 20 minutes of outtakes; and I didn't enjoy the still gallery, the theatrical trailer, the filmographies, the Jade Henham photo shoot, or the self-serving Reviews/Awards section. But, if for some reason you actually liked this movie, then you'll be in heaven.
The transfers on this release from Pathfinder are pretty average, so you won't stumble across anything that will really stand out either way. The 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer is clean and free from any defects, yet it lacks some depth and dimensionality. Also, the colors are a bit mild, with a touch of softness to the overall picture, reducing the sharpness and level of detail. The Dolby Digital 2.0 track comes across a bit stronger with clear dialogue from the center and a nice separation of sound among the other speakers. Surprisingly, the soundtrack does have some power and adds a nice zing (the only zing) to the presentation.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
When I first saw Lillian in the film, I was a little disappointed, from a physical point of view. On the DVD cover is a picture of a rather sultry woman in a sensual pose. Jade Henham didn't seem to be that same person. In fact, she seemed to be a bit…older and rundown. However, as the movie progressed, she grew more attractive. I don't believe that was the intention of the film, but it was more a result of some odd (poor) angle choices for those initial scenes. I think perhaps that they realized some angles were more flattering than others. Hence, by the end of the movie, I did find Jade attractive in an odd and intriguing manner.
Sorry, folks, but this movie doesn't get any praise from me. It's a ridiculous attempt to portray the struggles of a woman in a bad situation. The movie is a trumped-up fairy tale with a minimal grasp on reality. As life finally deals Lillian a good hand, we're meant to care about her plight and want her to wake up and choose the obviously right choice. But I just didn't care about Lillian or her problems. Maybe it is because I'm a man, or perhaps it's because of the sheer ridiculousness of our single-stroke characters. In either case, I'm breaking free and telling you the other critics must have been watching another movie or thinking of another movie when they got around to writing their glowing reviews. Looking Through Lillian is a slow, agonizing event that you do not want to experience. There's no need to rent or buy this one, so keep your money in your wallet.
Looking Through Lillian is hereby found guilty on the charge of identity theft. All parties are sentenced to mandatory counseling until they are deemed fit to return to society.
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Scales of Justice
• Audio Commentary with Film Critic Wade Major, Director Jake Torem, and Jade Henham
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