Haunting and seductive newcomer Jade Henham stars as Lillian in this fierce portrait of a young woman at a desperate crossroads.
As mistress to Gene (Sam Bottoms), a calculating, wealthy businessman with a twisted sexual fetish, Lillian enjoys luxurious but limited existence. Then, during a spontaneous night on the town with her best friend Andrea (Essence Atkins), Lillian meets Luke (Robert Glen Keith), a writer who opens her eyes to the world and prompts her to take a long look at the life she’s chosen. Changing lanes at such a late stage, however, proves more challenging than expected as Lillian finds herself torn between the possibility of real love or the dark and gritty lifestyle to which she has become accustomed.
eyelights: its likeable cast.
eyesores: its mundane plot. its extremely trite dialogues. its awful soundtrack.
“You looked right through me, but you never once saw me.”
Never judge a book by its cover, they say. But a cover can often draw to it a readership. Personally, I’ve discovered some of my favourite bands because of album covers. And movies still pull me based on the artwork.
Such was the case with ‘Looking Through Lillian’, a 2002 independent movie that I saw on eBay while buying other movies. The seller had a significant discount so I bought many titles based on the covers and short descriptions.
Sadly, sometimes a cover can falsely represent its content – hence the dictum. And ‘Looking Through Lillian’ is anything but “Sex. Addiction. Dysfunction.”, as the tagline promises – for good or bad, in my estimation.
The thing is, the DVD suggested gritty realism, and I put off watching it because I’m rarely in the mood for something grim; I often watch movies for escapism. I want to laugh, to be thrilled, to be stimulated.
‘Looking Through Lillian’ is f-ing boring.
There’s little sex in it, though Lillian dresses sexily. There’s no sign of addiction, though Lillian parties hard with her sugardaddy. And the only dysfunction that I could see is her inability to get a “real” job.
But to each’s own.
The story is mundane as hell: Lillian has weekly encounters with Gene, her sugardaddy, but is reconsidering her lifestyle – especially after meeting Luke, a hunk she meets in a bar one evening while out with her bestie.
Thankfully, Gene has left on a trip with his spouse, providing Lillian with a window of opportunity to explore her relationship with Luke. However, Gene unexpectedly returns early, and Luke has bad news for Lillian.
Lillian is at a crossroads..
But… who cares?
The story is nothing new or exciting, the dialogues are rife with clichés (to the extent that I started to wonder if it was deliberate, to show how little depth the characters had), and the film’s construction is pretty weak.
The worst of it, though, has got to be the damned soundtrack. What possessed the filmmakers to overstuff it with run-of-the-mill songs is beyond me. Why not just use an instrumental backing instead, like most films do?
Nope. Instead we are served all manners of pop, folk and light rock songs over nearly every single scene. And the few instrumental moments are total clichés, like the jazzy drivel we get as Lillian massages gene’s back.
At least the cast was enjoyable, or at the very least lovely to look at – especially Essence Atkins, as Andrea, Lillian’s best friend. The performances are okay, but Jade Henham has a few hysterical moments I’d’ve reshot.
But, again, who cares? The characters aren’t especially interesting; they’re all run-of-the-mill with no distinctive characteristics. Only Gene’s predilection for drag makes him stand out, but he’s otherwise one-dimensional.
Seriously, ‘Looking Through Lillian’ has barely anything in it to sustain an audience’s interest. It doesn’t stir any emotions, doesn’t stimulate, has nothing meaningful to convey and isn’t original or clever in any way.
Look all you want, but there’s little to see here.
Date of viewing: March 31, 2017