'The Canyons' Review: Lindsay Lohan Shows Flashes of Old Talent in Micro-Indie

The Canyons isn’t the worst movie I’ve seen this year. It’s not even the worst movie I’ve seen this summer. It has a pronounced lean-and-hungry look (it was shot in three weeks on a budget of $200,000, much of it Kickstarted), and the story--a slice of Tinseltown noir cranked out by Bret Easton Ellis--is almost laughably lurid. But the picture marks a striking debut by porn star James Deen, who’s convincingly depraved as a nasty trust-fund brat; and it’s laced with real-life psychodrama of a sort rarely seen in any kind of film. It’s balky and muddled, but it holds your attention almost in spite of itself.

Director Paul Schrader, who wrote Scorsese’s Taxi Driver way back in the day and also directed the ’80s touchstone film American Gigolo, hasn’t made a feature in five years. The Canyons is his desperate attempt at a comeback, and when he opens the picture with a lingering montage of abandoned movie theaters, you can feel him signaling his glum feelings about the current state of the Hollywood film industry.

The star is Lindsay Lohan, and…well, you know about her. She’s a good actor who has chosen to obscure her talent -- and trash her employability -- in a haze of tabloid chaos. Judging by a much-discussed early set-visit report by New York Times writer Stephen Rodrick, Lohan was a major pain in the butt on this film, and you can’t help flinching at the weathered state of her face (and her sometimes-bizarre makeup choices). But she’s committed to creating a character here, and in one scene toward the end of the movie--when the lost woman she plays is being viciously humiliated by her boyfriend--we’re reminded of how good this lost woman can be.

Read the full review at Reason.com


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