The Canyons Review

Posted 9 years ago by myetvmedia

Shallow values, a world with pathetic characters. Schrader’s The Canyons, scripted by Bret Easton Ellis (American Pyscho) is simply an extended parable that makes no obvious or overt judgment about any of its characters. They are neither simply ‘good’ nor ‘bad’ just pathetic. The protagonist and nemesis is constantly interchangeable, even the somewhat level headed, sane Gina (Amanda Brooks) responds to what should be a devastating personal moment with objective ambition, permeated with vengeance. Distrust, fear, psychosis, revenge are the drivers for the film’s characters and while the word ‘love’ is spoken, it is used as a term of desperate barter.

Schrader and Ellis set out to make a film for the post-cinema world dominated by the internet, one in which Hollywood is no longer solely in control of movie making. Personal cell devices are a prominent character in the narrative. The cyber world and texting in particular, is used to deceive and camouflage, a cell phone or computer never out of the frame, to the point where they are a ‘third man’ of sorts in the conversations between the characters. The film opens with a series of images depicting a current apocalypse: abandoned movie houses and concessions strewn with debris, vast empty parking lots. Again the images are interspersed episodically throughout the narrative and at the conclusion not only to re-enforce the message, but to raise and lower the curtain on a new kind of movie, still theatrical but viewed by many in private on the many modalities now available to us.

The film’s only major star and mainstream celebrity is Lindsay Lohan (Tara), the object of both Christian (James Deen) and Ryan’s(Nolan Funk) desperation. Ironically, under Schrader’s direction Lohan leaves her troubled persona at the stage door, the subject of so much exploitive press, and successfully trades it in for Tara’s troubled character in Ellis’ script. Lohan could be accused of ‘method’ acting because she nails the role so authentically. Exaggerated comparisons will be unfairly drawn but it is likely that she just knows Tara at a deep level and it makes its way on to the screen. Just as James Deen in a surprising performance breezes through the so called ‘adult’ scenes because of his vast experience (we also get a full frontal shot of his asset), he brings a complex set of emotions to his character that go well beyond the ‘adult’ genre. Not to be outdone is Nolan Funk as Ryan. At first naive, wet behind the ears, his character is slowly filled out to be as ‘pathetic’ as Christian’s. In one scene, he calls Christian’s bluff and takes a ‘blow job’ from a gay film producer to keep a role in his film, and he does so with alarming objectivity. In this scene we see exactly what Ellis refers to as his ‘cold’ and ‘dead’ characters.


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The Canyons Review

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