Wednesday, August 12, 2015

LILA & EVE (2015)

Directed By: Charles Stone III 
Written By: Pat Gilfillan 
Cinematography By: Wyatt Garfield 
Editor: Robert K. Lambert (Re-cut By: Toby Yates) 

Cast: Viola Davis, Jennifer Lopez, Andre Royo, Shea Whigham, Aml Ameen, Chris Chalk, Yolonda Ross

Lila, a grief-stricken mother reeling from her son's murder, attends a support group where she meets Eve, who urges her to take matters into her own hands to track down her son's killers. They soon embark on a journey of revenge, but also recovery.

The film at times depends on too much melodrama. In a story that I believe most of the audience can already sympathize with. So that it feels overwrought.

The film plays like a hard edged lifetime TV movie. With a surprisingly big name strong cast in the two leading roles.

It's nice to see Viola Davis in he lead and she gives the move and role more then they both deserve. As she is heartfelt and empathetic throughout. (She is also a producer on the film) which might explain her presence in the film. Which is why her transformation feels odd and while it shows her struggles with her decisions. It also allows for her to be smart and knowledgeable about it.

The film showing her foes underestimating her as an older woman helps make the tension and challenges a little more believable. So unlike a Liam Neeson film. She isn't some trained killer all of a sudden awakened. This film actually plays like a more relaxed Liam Neeson potboiler thriller Rather then action film. With more room for dramatics.

Jennifer Lopez In this movie at least shows she is willing to try to play different kind of roles. That she hasn't played in a while. Not necessarily a glamorous leading lady here, but a warm screen presence. She finally feels like she is becoming an actress again. Instead of a star. Here she is noticeable though doesn't take the shown off of viola. She fits Into the film and isn't a distraction. Even more surprising. Is that she is in a more supporting role rather then a lead and Irma not a Cameo or stunt casting.

Charlize Theron was the first choice to play Eve Rafael, but was already committed to DARK PLACES, a project that had a similar tone to the character at the moment, and ended up passing on it. The role eventually went to Jennifer Lopez. Having seen the other film. Charlize should have stayed.

Coincidently This film reunites Viola Davis and Jennifer Lopez for the first time in 17 years since OUT OF SIGHT. --It reminds one of the film EYE FOR AN EYE as far as the story of a mother turned vigilante. Though this film has more victims and deals more with her group therapy. Both are crowd pleaders though and have a detective who is supposed to help them. Soon begin investigating them instead.

Here the cop played by Shea Whigham at least seems sympathetic and a ball buster as he seems to be the only investigator who cares.

This is not necessarily bad just completely predictable with a twist there that thinks it is smart. That while well explained seems so out of left field as a decision. That it must have been the one element that made it stand out and get made.

The film smartly at times refers to issues and details the audience would notice and companion about. It covers itself in a blanket, but not necessarily well.

For all the crowd pleasing killings and revenge. While Lila shows more and more confidence. It never addresses any remorse she might feel in doing these killings. it takes a peek at the families of her victims to give a glimpse of the the other side, but quickly drops those pieces. Though it only towards the end starts to show the effects of what she is doing on her own family and friends.

While the film doesn't offer anything new in it's story. It's a nice time at the cinema. It introduces a problem of the inner city violence. Shows the pain and struggles as well as support and glimmers of hope, but again doesn't offer any answers. It only illustrates the story with it as background. Where as the battle is contained amongst minorities with Caucasians as referees almost or on the sidelines. Who only really get involved once one of their own are victims. Though not entirely their fault as no witnesses speak up. As they don't trust them or the neighbors are afraid of retaliation as thugs more run the streets and cops only get involved once something happens and are more forced to. nor is any evidence presented.

The film is directed by Charles Stone III, whose past films DRUMLINE, MR. 3000 and PAID IN FULL Which I am a fan of, here this seems like a more disappointing for hire job. As the film is ok but nothing noteworthy not is there anything too special about it. Which is not the case of his previous film. He is also the director and man's behind the wassssuuuuppp commercials.

The film touches upon such social issues bringing it up. yet never fully exploring it.


The film's chosen twist plays it's hand too early. Even if you aren't necessarily looking for it. It becomes distractingly evident.

Another twist that could have worked is that Jennifer Lopez's character is truly a hot man or at least a rival crime boss using Lila's character to take out her competition. As she would seem the least likely suspect and no one would really see her coming. Then at the end revealing her true identity and the actual shooter of Lila's son. Though that seems too much like a crime story UNBREAKABLE rip off and also. Too many questions as here are plenty of chinks in that story's armor. As why would she go through all that trouble plus know that she could push her to do it. P.S. This story is copy written.

Spoiler end


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