Lindsay Lohan stars in this seedy noir plagued by cardboard characters and flimsy dialogue
It seemed like such a good idea at the time: the author of American Psycho meets the writer of Taxi Driver for a Kickstarter-funded Los Angeles tale of sex, murder and intrigue. But The Canyons is largely set to go down as an embarrassing footnote in the careers of both its screenwriter Bret Easton Ellis and director Paul Schrader – unless, by some miracle, it gains cult success for its awfulness.
Admittedly, you’re asking for trouble if you cast Lindsay Lohan, whose on-set bad behaviour has already been famously chronicled in a New York Times piece long before the film was released (via video-on-demand) in the US last year. She plays Tara, currently dating the amoral Christian (real-life adult movie actor James Deen), a trust-fund kid-turned LA movie producer who lives up in a shimmering palace in the Hollywood Hills and enjoys cocaine and orgies as his pastimes.
While Christian is preparing a new movie with hunky youngster Ryan (Nolan Gerard Funk), Tara is secretly seeing Ryan behind her lover’s back. Meanwhile, Christian is enjoying an affair with his yoga teacher Cynthia (Tenille Houston, in the role originally earmarked for Lohan until she grabbed the lead). Oh, what an erotic web they weave. Compare it to Schrader’s earlier, classier films where sex was the driving force – be it Hardcore or American Gigolo – and this feels as flaccid as a Viagra-less porn star.
While Lohan acquits herself well enough given the circumstances, certainly compared to her more amateur co-stars, there’s just something about this lurid mess that leaves you with an ugly taste in your mouth. Penning his first original screenplay, Bret Easton Ellis revels in the seedier aspects of his attempts to conjure an old-school Hollywood noir. But instead, all you get is cardboard characters and dialogue flimsier than balsa wood. Avoid.
Limited release from Fri 9 May.