Friends, roommates, lovers.
Lost and Delirious, an export from Canada, slipped in and out of theatres without much public notice, despite the lesbian-love-affair plot. However, it was reasonably well-received critically and gave Piper Perabo a chance to do more than prance about on a bar like she did in Coyote Ugly.
Facts of the Case
Mouse Bradford (Mischa Barton) knows her late mother never would have sent her to boarding school, but there's nothing she can do about that now; a stepmother took her place. Her two roommates at Perkins Girls College, Pauline (Perabo) and Tory (Jessica Pare), take a liking to her, but Mouse soon realizes they've REALLY taken a liking to each other. In fact, they're in love—but when Tory chickens out of the scandalous relationship, Mouse gets caught up in a scary situation.
This movie deals with young love of a different sort. Lost and Delirious is basically—though not deliberately—a female version of Get Real, the British film about young gay love on the campus of a private school. Like that film, the girls' love is treated delicately, like any young love affair, and never in an exploitative manner.
Upon Mouse's arrival, it is apparent who the bad girl is on campus. Pauline spikes the punch and smokes cigarettes; she's trouble with a capital T, but like most troublemakers, she's just got a heart of gold. That's one of the many clichés that litter the film.
Sharing living quarters with Mouse and Pauline is Tory, beautiful, smart, and privileged—the "good" girl. Tory is in love with Pauline, who adores her. They don't come out right away to Mouse; rather, she wakes up in the middle of the night to their heavy breathing, or catches them smooching outside a window.
As Mouse tries to heal from her mother's death and being so far from her father, she has to also deal with the tumult of Tory and Paulie's relationship. When they are caught in bed by other students, Tory suddenly acknowledges that this affair isn't just a schoolgirl fantasy. It's real, and the repercussions could be just as worse: her parents disowning her, her friends dissing her, total strangers judging her. She decides to hook up with Jake, a kid from the nearby boy's school, infuriating Paulie. Mouse becomes Paulie's accomplice in jealousy-fueled behavior.
What happens next takes the film on a drastically different road. Paulie is held up as some sort of martyr type, like a saint for lesbianhood or something, figured in a male role as she tries to woo Tory back with Shakespeare and fencing. In other words, Paulie is emasculated in her attempt to win back Tory as a white knight, and her attempts are wince-inducing—the Shakespeare is just plain cheesy, and the duel she sets up with Jake makes her look silly. We want to like Paulie, not watch her lose her dignity.
In the process, Mouse's journey—a promising one—is left on the side of the road as the plot focuses on Paulie and Tory. We don't get to bond with Mouse as much as we'd like to, and Mischa Barton is such a good actress that I'd have liked her take over more of the story. In the end, I did enjoy Lost and Delirious, I just wish it hadn't escaped into unrequited-love clichés and further explored Mouse's experience.
The DVD transfer was much better than the plot, the muted hues reflecting Pierre Gill's seductive cinematography. No edge enhancement was present and blacks were solid. The 1:85:1 anamorphic widescreen format was a pleasure to watch as always—overall this is a nice presentation of this film.
The 5.1 Dolby Digital sound was clear, but I found a mixing problem early in the film. Background music far overwhelmed the dialogue and it was hard to tell if it was an artistic choice or a mixing snafu (because it sure didn't work as an artistic choice). Overall, there is a good use of all speakers and more even mixing throughout the rest of the film. No distortion or hiss was heard during any of the scenes. Also included are English and Spanish subtitles.
Special features were pretty weak, only offering a trailer and the ever-present "interactive menus." Yawn.
Lost and Delirious lost its way two-thirds through the movie. A delicate treatment of subject matter and excellent performances by all the actors saves it from being a B-level girl's school drama, and you can tell the artists involved were earnest and well-meaning. Despite a nice transfer, the DVD could have used a few more extras.
A good try, and an A for effort—but forced to study Shakespeare after class.
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