Sunday, December 7, 2014

New on VOD--Matt Creed and Amy Grantham's LILY covers recovery from cancer treatment

Cancer at any age can be devastating, but for a young woman who looks to be in her early twenties, it's hard to imagine the shock to the system that dealing with something like this might entail. We pick up on our heroine, Lily, the main character of the eponymously titled LILY just at the close of her treatment for what looks like maybe breast cancer, when she is just finishing her radiation sessions and still has the underarm burns to show for this. The movie opens with an extraordinarily beautiful shot of our girl (Amy Grantham, below, who both co-wrote and stars in the movie) going through one of her final radiation sessions. Though you concentrate on her beautiful face, you're also aware that you can see the pulse actually beating in her delicate neck.

The film's director, Matt Creed (shown below), wisely concentrates on Lily (Ms Grantham) for just about the entire movie, since the actress has a splendid face for the camera, as beautiful in repose as in action. If only the rest of the project were up to this level.

Lily's problem -- the character's and the movie's -- is that her life is currently shit. But the more we see and learn of it, and her, it's clear that her life was exactly that before the cancer hit. Yet she doesn't seem to know or care. She just moves, often rather trance-like, from bad event to bad event, with the camera following so that we see, as in the photo at bottom, that hugely expressive feature known as "the back of the head." Yes, it's that kind of movie. It is also, I must say, quite smart about its use of exposition, of which there is little. Very quickly, we're asking, Whose kids are those? And who's this older guy (below, left) -- their daddy? Or is he her father? Or Grandpa? (He's old enough.) Omigod -- they're getting into bed....

Eventually we learn the answers. We even get a smidgen of conversation about that incredible Cuban art school we first learned of in the fine documentary Unfinished Spaces. We meet Lily's mom, and eventually her dad, and note that one's a bigger asshole than the next. As is her husband/boyfriend. Her friends (some of them, anyway) seem a little less annoying. (Though the standard scene in which they all insist to her that she looks fabulous without her wig, as below, is something we knew the second she removed it several scenes back.)

I am told that the movie is loosely based upon the real-life experiences of its star, Ms Grantham. So it is difficult not to feel something for this young woman and her truly horrible life, at least as it appears here. But this is nowhere near enough to make a worthwhile movie. (The only positive thing here seems to be that, even without a job or any prospects of one, money is not a problem for Lily.)

We tag along as Lily visits a thrift shop, buys a pair of tap shoes and then practices at home until her neighbor complains, after which she does this outside (below), attracting, as you might guess, some attention. And then we watch as metaphor rears its head and our girl views a street vendor creating a very large bubble (above) that finally bursts.

At film's close, Lily visits an art dealer whose help she needs. Her actions appear to be every bit as clueless and unprofessional as ever, all of which makes what I suspect was supposed to be a feel-good finale for Lily (and Lily) seem a few levels less than promising.

After several film-festival appearances, the movie will make its VOD debut this coming Tuesday, December 9.

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