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Movie Reviews

Lost and Delerious  

Once in a while, you stumble upon such greatness of emotion that you are left speechless. This is what happened when I first saw Canadian director Lea Pool's first venture into English language cinematography, LOST AND DELIRIOUS. Actually, I had to see it twice to be sure to find the right words to express the quality of this film.

Something happened in the theatre when I first went to see this film, something that I had never seen in all my movie-going life. As the last words were spoken on the screen and the credits started to roll, not a sound could be heard in the room. Not one person got up to leave. It was like everyone was finally able to breathe. About 100 people simply sat there in complete silence. Two men beside me were teary-eyed. It may sound like I'm exaggerating but believe me I was just as stunned. Usually when the credits start and the music begins, people are already heading for the door, but in this case, it was like time had stopped. If anything, this is an indication of just how moving and brilliant this film is. The movie, which premiered at this year's Sundance film Festival was an instant critical favorite, rated four stars by many of the critics at the Festival.

Susan Swan bases the film on the novel "The Wives of Bath" with a script by Judith Thompson. The movie is about Mouse nicknamed Mary Brave (Mischa Barton), the cautious rich Victoria (Jessica Paré) and her best feisty rebel Paulie (Piper Perabo) who is also Victoria's best friend and lover. The premise might sound a bit uncertain at first, but don't let it fool you. While some people might take a step back when they hear of lesbian love being the basis of the film, one has to be open minded enough to appreciate the quality of emotion that the film and the performances provide. Actually, as the movie progresses and we get to see the depth of the characters, we actually forget that the story does not conform to the 'norm'. It might sound cliché to say that, but it's true. The film is so refreshing and beautifully done that the love story comes across as the most innocent and pure of all. You forget that it's a girl loving a girl. It could have been a boy and you wouldn't see the difference. That is how powerful this film can be. If you can get passed the fact that the movie takes risks in that way, and if you are open minded enough to appreciate a love story told from a different perspective, then this movie is definitely a must see. I will admit that I wasn't sure about the film before seeing it, but five minutes into the movie and I knew that it was nothing short of a masterpiece on many levels.

Although the film is about three girls, it centers mostly on Paulie, beautifully portrayed by Piper Perabo. The most remarkable thing about this movie has to be Perabo's eye-opening and vivid performance.Her emotionally draining portrayal of Paulie's pain and despair is a far cry from her previous work, such as Coyote Ugly, in which she mostly had to just look cute and sweet. In this film, she is asked a lot as an actor, and trust me, she delivers. The truest words of the film come from Paulie's mouth and Perabo utters each and every one of them with depth and intensity. Her performance is a reminder of Angelina Jolie in "Girl Interrupted" and Hilary Swank in "Boys Don't Cry", blended with a touch of her own. She conveys Paulie's self-destruction with incredible strength and her presence on the screen is surprisingly outstanding. Whether it is her metaphorical friendship with an eagle, or her moments of outburst, every scene is vividly acted by Perabo and her co-stars. Her facial expressions and tone of voice sometimes whispers, sometimes full rage -- are painfully gut-wrenching in many ways.

"If it sees too much, it gets freaked out and flies away." Paulie about the eagle.

These words, spoken by Paulie earlier in the film are an indication of what is to come. Often enough, the dialogue spoken in the film has many meanings and this one is a great example. Paulie is talking about the bird but she might as well be talking about humans. The conversation is about the bird seeing through its cage and freaking out, which is exactly what happens in the beginning of the film when other girls at school "see too much" of Paulie and Victoria's relationship. And Victoria is the one to be freaked out. This brings me to one of this film's good qualities, the dialogue. The words seem to stay on your brain hours after the film has ended. From the scenes in which Paulie recites Shakespeare at the top of her lungs or the ones in which she tells a shy Mouse (whom Paulie calls Mary Brave) to "Rage more". Especially the "Rage more" quote, which automatically becomes Paulie's motto in the film. It may be the context, in which the words are spoken, or simply the way Perabo conveys these two simple words that make it so unforgettable and poignant but it just is.

Mouse: "You are a girl in love with a girl, aren't you?"
Paulie: "No. I'm Paulie in love with Tory. Remember?"

If anything, this is the core of the film. To Paulie, it's not about sex. It's not about "the norm". It's about love. You love who you love and she is unapologetic about it. It's about a love that goes far beyond sexes and boundaries. I guess this is what makes the film so intense Paulie's conviction and belief in true love. One of the most wonderful things about Perabo's performance is that you are captivated by it, in the sense that you never quite know where she is going next.

Another thing that is very interesting is the different friendships formed between the three girls. Mouse's friendship with Paulie once Paulie goes down on a self-destructing path is remarkably touching in a very subtle kind of way. What the outside world sees as a self-destructing path, Paulie considers to be a path to freedom, and Mary understands that. All the different relationships and friendships developed beautifully and it pulls the viewers in perfectly. You care for these people. You root for these people. You laugh and cry with them, and mostly, you feel their pain and motivation throughout the film.

Accompanied by a delicately moving score, the film is a jewel in itself. It is an exquisite piece of art due to the fact that this is how Lea Pool shot it as an art-piece almost. She made this film the same way one who create a sculpture, making sure that every curve is perfect. Visually, this film is perfection in itself. It is visually very personal, in the sense that most of the key scenes are shot very close to the skin, using close-ups. This adds a lot to the story in many ways. Even the love scene is shot in a tenderly manner, which differentiates from the usual sex scenes we often see in movies.

It is a haunting movie, with depth and incredible emotions. If I had to pick of the best movies I have seen so far, this would surely rank at the top of my list. Lost and Delirious is inspiring, but most importantly, it's so beautifully told that it leaves you speechless. I know I was. I recommend this film to anyone who likes thoughtful filmmaking with depth and intensity. This is one of the best films I have seen. It deserves all the praises it's getting. I highly recommend it.

Paul Ferris

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