Friday, February 24, 2017

FRANK & LOLA (2016)

Written & Directed By: Matthew Ross 
Cinematography By: Eric Koretz 
Editor: Jennifer Lilly, Rebecca Rodriguez & Matthew C. Hart 

Cast: Imogen Poots, Michael Shannon, Rosanna Arquette, Justin Long, Michael Nyqvist, Emmanuelle Devos, Suteara Vaughn, Alex Lombard, Stella Schnabel 

A psychosexual noir love story, set in Las Vegas and Paris, about love, obsession, sex, betrayal, revenge and, ultimately, the search for redemption.

Director Matthew Ross had been trying to make this film for ten years prior to its release in 2016. Imogen Poots (Lola) admitted that his dedication attracted her to the project and it was a large deciding factor in her signing on.

I will admit that except for the two actors starring in the film. I wasn't enticed to see the film just off the advertisement, but with the two actors involved I knew it had to be something deeper than just a younger female older male romantic tale.

The film has a romantic vibe especially early in the film. Though as the story moves along it comes off more like an obsession story.

The first scene of the film offers a glimpse into the couples relationship. Where a intimate liaison seems like it will be canceled between them. Before she reveals she wants to try something different and kinky. In a way opening up to each other the particular things they like during sex. Rather then just being broad and pleasurable. Showing a turning point in their relationship allowing for more of a trust of the partner. It begins provocatively and seems to explore many stages and emotions here are in a relationship. Which this scene in it's own way gives us a preview of what is to come.

The film plays like jazz. As there is a structure and style but feels like it is more freestyle.

The film has a older man, younger woman scenario. He has been in many relationship and even married. So he is experienced. She is to a degree, but she is still learning and making mistakes. The same with him to a lesser degree. As they both acknowledge they are screw-ups.

Though as both have promised each other hurt feelings and love. He seems more obsessed and unsure and it seems at every little turn to be justified to a degree. As we wonder is she just naive or playing games with his heart. As of course he has more to lose. So we wonder does she just not know how to Handle it or does she just not know what she wants. She might even think this is A way to keep his attention.

The film already is shot like a dark noir. Seems to introduce twists and turns that are vivid and make it seem more like a film noir. That you don't really see coming. It might have been added to spice up the film and make it more tasty to audiences seeking some excitement to this romance. The film would have been fine even if it stuck to the basics and more revolved around a relationship drama. As the twists feel unnecessary at times. That seem to just add more sex and a lurid tawdriness to the film. When it was already a good dark romantic tale

As while the film stays romantic to a degree it also is rather Frank in language between the characters. Not so many I love you's more talk about security and questions of their very natures.

One can appreciate the films international appearance. As one can appreciate the film is set in Las Vegas. Not New York or California for a change. As it seems that is where most chefs locate after success and branding. It leaves the film a little off kilter, but not necessarily cosmopolitan.

Imogen Poots, who I am a fan of knocks it out of the park with this role. As the femme fatale of this tale. A she is mysterious, sultry, innocent, crazy but also poised and in control. A beauty who seems to know her own strength and limitations. Here she Finally gets a role worthy of her talents. Where she truly gets to shine.

Michael Shannon never ceases to amaze and he is really good here too good as the male lead. Imposing physically presence but also sensative. It is one of the rare times he is called upon to play a romantic leading man. It allows you to see what he can accomplish and his range. He deserves better than this film. He might have been more interesting playing the mother's ex at the center of this tale, but that would be a role we more expect him in.

Justin Long plays his usual hyperactive talkative roll of a guy who is a jerk bit is genuine at his word.

Where it works more as a character piece as no matter how wild the film gets and where it goes the characters stay solid. Through the filmmakers seem afraid to go the more character route and leaving it at that. They seem to think with all the actions they add it makes it more exciting or entertaining by adding more exploitive sex. Which sinks the film to a degree. As it seems more out of excess.

The film goes places you never expect it to go with betrayal, heartbreak, revenge. A certain element is not needed but does help us to understand the opening scene a bit more. Transforming it from a scene of discovery and honesty about embarrassing things that turn us on.

From the beginning to the end he film sustains a romantic tale.

The film is dark when it comes to material but at least it is something smart, different and original. Plus it moves quickly

Grade: B-

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