Poor old Lindsay Lohan. She isn’t the best thing about this awful, lounged-out drama from director Paul Schrader and writer Bret Easton Ellis – it has no best thing. But in her defence, she’s been atrociously directed, allowed to get away with murder and trotted out like a symbolic objet d’art. Tara (Lohan), a text-addled Angeleno kept in an emotionally abusive relationship by the wealthy Christian (porn star James Deen, a furrowed-brow caricature), is a thankless role. Lohan only commits to slightly more nudity than we’ve seen in the magazines, but your inner parent will cringe: sure, she may have botched them, but where are the intimate acting moments that would have justified such a plunge?
Big names are responsible: novelist-screenwriter Ellis, whose vacancy can often work ominously on the page, has done zilch to let us into these characters. His script is a parade of fools – including nominal good-guy Ryan (Nolan Funk), Tara’s ex-boyfriend – and feels sluggish and tossed off. 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 Schrader, who, when he isn’t indulging in pretentious shots of abandoned ruined cinemas, traffics in the kind of dirty-old-man cinema he used to be able to criticise 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.