Yes, Lindsay Lohan is topless in "The Canyons," but I am totally not
going to make any puns about that fact and that title. Not going to do it.
The child-star-turned-tabloid-mess is the best thing about Paul Schrader's revenge drama, which is skipping theaters and heading straight to iTunes and video-on-demand services, starting Friday. Lohan plays a dissolute Los Angeleno who drifts from lazing by a pool to picking over a salad with a girlfriend to having sex on demand with her skeezy boyfriend (porn star James Deen) and whoever else he happens to drag home with him.
Lohan clearly recognizes the correlation between her wasted character and her own reduced circumstances. Her quiet, huskily pained response to the art-imitates-life plot makes her the only compelling character in "Canyons." That's even more true if you grade on a curve; Lohan is surrounded by porn stars and wanna-be actors such as Deen, whose biggest, um, talent is not emotional. His character is a creep from the word "go" and nothing about his downward slide -- or his drug-fueled attempts to drag his girlfriend along -- gives us anything new to consider.
"The Canyons" is a little more interesting as a sign of where the movie business may be headed. Although it was made by a major filmmaker (Schrader directed "American Gigolo" and wrote "Taxi Driver"), its tiny budget was mostly crowd-sourced. Schrader makes a little money go a long way -- the early-morning L.A. scenes are beautifully composed and shot -- so he seems to be finding ways to work within a system that no longer places a high value on his experience. But the shots of abandoned L.A. movie palaces that pop up throughout suggest that he longs for the Hollywood that was.
Chris Hewitt can be reached at 651-228-5552. Follow him on twitter.com/ChrisHMovie.
Directed by: Paul Schrader
Starring: Lindsay Lohan, James Deen
Rated: Not rated, but contains full-frontal nudity, drug use, violence and strong language
Should you rent? If you're a Lohan fan, maybe. The movie is iffy but her performance hints at how good she might have been if she hadn't been replaced in the current Linda Lovelace biopic. *-1/2
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