TIFF 2015 Review | ‘Lolo’ Needs Somebody to Wean On
So, you have successfully romanced Julie Delpy. Well done, since she’s funny and beautiful and smart and, in the world of Lolo, also a successful fashion design person of some kind. You get her back to her apartment, plop down on the bed, and accidentally break the rib of her adult son, who emerges from the sheets in bright orange underwear and proceeds to systematically ruin your life. What do you do, hotshot? What do you do?
If you are a rational, sane person you get the hell out of there as fast as you can and don’t look back except with an occasional, fleeting wist. But if you are Jean-René (Dany Poon), you soldier on with a happy smile and assume the best in everybody and eventually suffer all the suffering as a result. Lolo (Vincent Lacoste) puts itching powder in Jean-René’s clothing and convinces his mum that all her new boyfriend’s scratching is from an STI. Lolo spikes Jean-René’s drink at a fancy, fancy work party. Lolo doesn’t like it when other men distract his mom from what really matters: Lolo.
And Lolo, the film, is just as unbalanced as Lolo, the character. Delpy co-wrote and directed this acidic farce, and she keeps the tone consistently arch. It is obvious that Lolo is supposed to be very, very funny. But the twisted undertone of the plot is quite mean-spirited, since we are expected to laugh for most of the running time at a kind, sweet human being who is systematically destroyed and ruined by an arch villain. Whether that’s funny is a matter of some debate.
Put it this way: Lolo plays a little like a Bugs Bunny cartoon, but if Elmer Fudd never hunted at all and just stayed at home and worked for charities all day. He’s a helpless victim with noble intentions who still has to fend off the superhuman attacks of an animal who feels righteous in their anger, even though they were never slighted in the first place. The performances may be solid and the timing may be spot-on, but you will be forgiven for thinking that the whole comedic foundation is a bit dodgy to begin with.
But if you can get off on this form of humiliation comedy – and let’s face it, a lot of us can – then Lolo should amuse you. Certainly Delpy is a deft filmmaker, and along with her co-writer Eugénie Grandval she has crafted some very interesting characters who spout the kind of funny, believable dialogue that middle-aged adults rarely get to say in American movies anymore. Lolo is not a bad movie, it’s just a perplexing one. I’m not sure if the most rational response to Lolo is amusement or horror, but I do enjoy asking the question.
Images via Mars Distribution
William Bibbiani (everyone calls him ‘Bibbs’) is Crave’s film content editor and critic. You can hear him every week on The B-Movies Podcast and watch him on the weekly YouTube series Most Craved and What the Flick. Follow his rantings on Twitter at @WilliamBibbiani.