Who roots for Lindsay Lohan now? And not through the prism of her own bad decisions (and cynical press). She isn’t the best thing about this awful, lounged-out drama—it has no best thing—but in her defense, Lohan has been atrociously directed, allowed to get away with the worst aspects of her vocal-fry laziness, and trotted out like a symbolic objet d’art. Tara (Lohan), a text-addled Angeleno kept in an emotionally abusive relationship by wealthy Christian (porn-star James Deen, a furrowed-brow caricature), is a thankless role. Lohan commits to slightly more nudity than we’ve seen in the magazines, but your inner parent will cringe: Even if she’d bumbled them, where are the intimate acting moments that would have justified such a plunge? She dangles, underutilized.
Big names are responsible: Novelist-screenwriter Bret Easton Ellis, whose vacancy can often work ominously on page, has done zilch to let us into these characters; his script, a parade of ding-a-lings—including nominal good-guy Ryan (Nolan Funk), Tara’s ex-boyfriend—seems sluggish and tossed off. (Maybe less tweeting, more revising?) The sound work on the movie feels raw and unfinished; it’s hard to get around how shoddy it is. But the lion’s share of the blame should go to filmmaker Paul Schrader, who, when he isn’t indulging in pretentious shots of abandoned, ruined movie theaters, traffics in the kind of dirty-old-man cinema he used to be able to criticize from a distance in films like Auto Focus. Here’s how Lohan can make her comeback, should she choose to: Start by saying no, clearly and firmly, to the exploiters. Not all of them come bearing drugs; sometimes, they have indie projects.
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