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Suicide or Lulu and Me in a World Made for Two
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by Jay Seaver

"I, also, like Louise Brooks, but not this much."
4 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2015 BOSTON SCI-FI FILM FESTIVAL: Christian Carroll hits a couple of things I really like in "Suicide or Lulu and Me in a World Made for Two", enough that I can overlook its faults, probably better than many would. It's a nifty little movie, although there are one or two things that make it a little hard to entirely love.

It starts with Louise McPhee (Adeline Thery), a mute amnesiac staying at the home of her boyfriend Jorge (Carroll) somewhere near Oklahoma City. They met in Paris, where Louise was a street performer whose married boyfriend had just dumped her and Jorge was working on special photographic projects. They fell in love, and together created amazing art. Or at least, that's what's in the vials of liquid material that Jorge users to restore her memory.

That McPhee resembles silent film star Louise Brooks, especially the iconic haircut, is no accident, and is kind of morbidly funny, then, for her to spend large chunks of the movie mute, in addition to the film being shot in black and white. Or, more likely, a filter is applied; that's what is more likely these days, even in a movie that very specifically fetishizes silent films in general and Pandora's Box in particular. That one features Brooks as a woman in a highly mutable relationship, which means Carroll is kind of meta on top of meta here, with the style and the brainwashing and both obscure camera tech and steampunk-inspired virtual reality as the means of control. It can be a little over-clever and extends the metaphor and tendency toward cooler-than-you references toward the end, but if you like this sort of material, you'll probably find Carroll does it fairly well. It's not empty reference substituting for a story.

Indeed, it works fairly well as a science-fiction story, provided you don't mind those being in artsy black-and-white Or dealing with the creepy subject of a man rewriting a woman's memories so she will be with him. If you're okay with that, it's a nifty riff on that story, even if it does wind up over-extending itself on that level too. Still, even when it's going a bit too far, it's got Adeline Thery, who gets the chance to play Louise three or four different ways, and they share a common sadness, while one's happiness is able to feed another's anger. She plays the quirky and somewhat undefined heroine well, but it's also very capable of taking control of the screen when things need doing.

It's hard to say the same about Carroll playing Jorge, though. A filmmaker often needs to cast themselves to make ends meet, and he may certainly be thinking in terms of his own voice for a character, but if it doesn't come off because there is very little natural about the way he plays the character. There's something potentially interesting in the way Jorge is pathetic, but it's not hard to appreciate the different energy Brian Shoop brings when he is paired with Thery (playing a relative of Louise's) later in the movie.

I can't exactly recommend this movie to everyone; it's weird, kind of shaky at points, and I have to talk myself into the ending. I can do that, although I can't guess where anyone else will stand on it.

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originally posted: 02/17/15 15:51:44
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2015 Boston SciFi Film Festival For more in the 2015 Boston Sci-Fi Film Festival series, click here.

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