|Lost and Delirious
LOST AND DELIRIOUS is a superlative film about the trials and
tribulations of young woman at an all-girls boarding school adapted
from Susan Swan's novel The Wives of Bath. The film marks another
notch in the fine career of director Léa Pool, who scored last with
EMPORTE-MOI/SET ME FREE.
Rarely has a filmmaker captured the essence of those moments
between adolescence and adulthood with the skill and sensitivity Pool
does. She is ably assisted by her gifted cast, headed by Mischa Barton
as the narrator Mary Bradford, newcomer Jessica Paré as a young woman
struggling with her emotions and her desire to please her parents and,
most particularly, by Piper Perabo as the loose cannon bad girl whose
antics bring about seismic changes in the lives of those around her.
While the film is ostensibly set in the present day, there's an
old-fashioned feel to it that lends a timelessness to the plot, which
essentially boils down to girl loves girl, girl loses girl, girl cannot cope.
That distillation doesn't capture the delicate nuances in the
performances or the structure of Judith Thompson's superb screenplay.
Mary, still coping with the death of her mother and her father's
remarriage, is shipped off to boarding school where she ends up
rooming with rich girl Victoria 'Tori' Clark (Paré) and the rebellious
Pauline 'Paulie' Oster (Perabo). While they eschew labels and even
derogatorily speculate on the sexuality of two of their teachers, Tori
and Paulie have fallen deeply in love and have made plans for a future.
Mary is at first confused by their closeness, then gradually comes
to accept it. When the girls are caught together by Tori's younger
sister, Tori freaks and calls an end to their relationship, fearful of
being cut off from her wealthy parents. For Paulie, that is unbearable
and she slowly declines into madness, deflecting all attempts to help
her by the school's headmistress (the wonderful Jackie Burroughs)
and a math teacher (Mimi Kuzyk), with ultimately tragic results.
Pool, directing with a sure hand, elicits strong work from her cast.
Newcomer Paré is terrific as the confused and timid Tori while Barton
skillfully navigates the journey from naivete to self-acceptance. The
real surprise, though, is Perabo. I was hardly impressed with her
abilities based on her work in COYOTE UGLY and the dreadful
THE ADVENTURES OF ROCKY AND BULLWINKLE, but here she
offers up a magnificent turn, full of abandon and skill. She takes
scenes that in lesser hands could be deemed somewhat ridiculous
and invests themwith such fortitude and conviction she overcomes
whatever minor flaws there are in her character. It is a powerful
performance and ranks as one of the best in her career.
The film, shot on location in Quebec, looks beautiful as well,
thanks to Pierre Gill's superb lensing and the production design of
Serge Bureau. Simply put, LOST AND DELIRIOUS is a minor masterpiece.
MPAA Rating: R for strong sexual content
involving teens, and language
Running time: 103 mins.
|© 2005 by C. E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.