…and the quest to see everything

Archive for August 1, 2011

Lost and Delirious

In any film set in high school, the kids would be reading a text that the teacher would interpret blandly while an exceptional child muses on how that old text surprisingly has meaning in his or her young life. But in Lost and Delirious we have a teacher who exclaims the word LOVE! to sum up William Shakespeare’sAntony and Cleopatra,” so giddy about the word even if it destroys those characters. I feel bad for her students and their parents, the latter working hard only to have wasted their money on such cheap erudition. ‘What if the movie is about characters who are oblivious on how love’s damages on those who feel it?’ No, I don’t think the film or its director Lea Pool is conscious enough of this disconnect.

Unfortunately someone’s rabbit ears have tunes into this Literature teacher, who for some reason only wants to teach her kids Shakespeare without mixing it up with texts from other forms and eras. Anyway, these rabbit ears belong to Paulie (Piper Perabo), the strong-willed rebellious orphan who is also one of half of a homosexual relationship between her and her roommate and Victoria or ‘Torrie’ (Jessica Pare). Torrie eventually breaks off the relationship and chooses a young man from the all male private school next door, sending Paulie in a downward spiral that’s veering into clichéd territory. When the new girl and third roommate Mary (Mischa Barton) tries to tell Paulie that Torrie’s not a ‘lesbian,’ she says ‘I’m not a lesbian. I’m Paulie in love with Torrie and Torrie is in love with me!’ renouncing the label and still believes that their young love is beyond gender. And most of us have been there, straight or gay, having to deal with the difficulty of rejection and she’s not carrying that burden well, knowing her family situation or lack thereof.

There are also moments of brilliance with these performances, when Perabo expressing herself as that troubled child, the words struggling from her mouth like it would with other young people. Pare as Torrie in the scene with the teary-eyed confession to Mary, telling the latter that her conservative family’s rejection might be more painful than leaving Torrie. Barton as Mary jogging with her awkward hands, receptive to the insular yet eye-opening private school world in which her father and stepmother have thrust her in. Graham Greene being more than the clichéd First Nations mystic, his character, a gardener, is a guy who flubs jokes and is a good father figure to Mary. But then the last scenes come and Torrie wears a suit like gay girls in movies do and pretends she’s Hamlet, making us feel ambivalent about tragedies we’ve seen too many times before.