'The Canyons' Reviews: the Good, the Bad and the Lohan
Paul Schrader's drama, already notorious for the story of its tumultuous production, opens Friday via IFC Films.
The reviews for The Canyons, co-starring porn star James Deen and Hollywood troublemaker Lindsay Lohan, are rolling in. Here's an early roundup of critics' feedback on the buzzy B-movie, directed by Paul Shrader and written by Bret Easton Ellis:
Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter: "Far from the renegade, boundary-pushing, sexually explicit sensation that its makers have been suggesting, The Canyons is a lame, one-dimensional and ultimately dreary look at peripheral Hollywood types not worth anyone's time either onscreen or in real life. Skanky side of L.A. expert Bret Easton Ellis employs nothing but melodramatic cliches in relating the manipulative and duplicitous doings of characters altogether interchangeable in their tediousness and lack of distinct personalities, while Paul Schrader had far more to work with in his last foray into scum-bucket Hollywood behavior in the excellent Auto Focus."
David Denby, The New Yorker: "Lohan is a real actress, but in this movie she’s puffy and overwrought and unfocussed, and she weeps a lot. At times, needy and confused, she’s touching, but you’re not sure whether she’s crying in character, or lamenting her participation in a low-budget movie, or grieving over her own troubles. Whatever it is, she offers the only palpable emotion in the controlled wastes of The Canyons."
Eric Kohn, Indiewire: "Here, Lohan is as bland and unfocused as the material. During the one scene that allows her to degrade her oppressive boyfriend, her robotic delivery freezes the possibilities of bona fide tension (as well as titillation, for whatever that's worth). 'I don't like to feel like I'm not in control,' Christian moans to his shrink, and while those may be Ellis' words, Schrader probably can relate. The Canyons has no discernible identity, resulting in the rare case where the story of the production outdoes the final product: As an indictment of the modern filmmaking practice, it's only effective because it fails."
John Hazelton, ScreenDaily.com: "Lohan (who hasn’t carried a hit since 2005's Herbie: Fully Loaded) is more than believable, but neither the script nor her performance quite explains the fatal attraction that Tara seems to exert. In his first non-porn role, Deen is excellent as the icy Christian."
Scott Foundas, Variety: "The major exception is Lohan, who gives one of those performances, like Marlon Brando’s in Last Tango in Paris, that comes across as some uncanny conflagration of drama and autobiography. Lohan may not go as deep or as far as Brando, but with her puffy skin, gaudy hoop earrings and thick eye makeup, there's a little-girl-lost quality to the onetime Disney teen princess that’s very affecting. Whenever she's onscreen, she projects a sense of just barely holding on to that precarious slide area in the shadow of the Hollywood sign."