'The Canyons,' starring Lindsay Lohan is out now. It might look visually spectacular but does the plot hold up?
The trailer for The Canyons was released at least eight months before the movie release, giving us a tantalising glimpse of the swirling cinematography, melancholic Hollywood glamour and synthy Drive-esque soundtrack of the erotic thriller. Plus, it looked like a solid return to filmmaking for Lindsay Lohan whose public battle to stay sober has consumed the press surrounding her lately.
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Lohan plays Tara, an actress trying to keep her affair with an actor from her past quiet whilst her privileged and scheming boyfriend Christian (James Deen) makes films to keep his trust fund intact. The plot goes awry when Christian finds out about Tara's affair and the narrative takes a darker turn, descending into bloody violence and cruel sexual mind games.
At the moment, The Canyons is rated at a positively icky 22% on Rotten Tomatoes; an indicator that reviewers couldn't be won over by a bit of vintage camerawork with unusual facial shots of actors. Quite, The LA Times disapprove of the film's perceived pomposity, saying "If the creation of self-important tedium were a competitive sport, "The Canyons" would take home the gold." Vulture can't hate the film enough, describing it as "rank" and "miserably un-transcendent" with director Schrader alienating not just his characters from one another but the audience from the film with empty metaphors and distracted acting.
Watch The Canyons Trailer:
The negative reviews certainly come as a surprise to those who know the acting potential of Lohan and former porn star Deen, not to mention the writer/directorial combo of Bret Easton Ellis (American Psycho) and Paul Schrader (American Gigolo). Variety recognises that each of Easton Ellis' and Schrader's distinctive styles serve them well: "the signature psychosexual perversity of director Paul Schrader finds its nearly perfect match in novelist Bret Easton Ellis," and go as far as to say that The Canyons is Schrader's most stylish picture in years, "constantly framed" against "vast" ocean canvasses.
If anything, the movie serves as a crash test dummy; an experimentation into the benefits of making a movie via crowdfunding. During May and June, $159,015 was raised far surpassing its goal of $100,000 in funding. The budget for the film was a teeny $250,000 and all actors were reportedly just paid $100 a day with high street fashion store American Apparel supplying the wardrobe. Like a wrecked ship outside a harbour, The Canyons will sign a devastating warning to all other who pass this way: an indie status doesn't equal success.