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Lions Gate presents
Lush (1999)

Rachel: Anyone ever tell you, you look like a young Jack Barrymore?
Ex: No.
Rachel: No, I wouldn't think so.

- Laura Linney, Campbell Scott

Review By: Jon Danziger   
Published: March 21, 2002

Stars: Campbell Scott, Jared Harris, Laurel Holloman, Laura Linney
Other Stars: James R. Hall Jr., James 'Kimo' Wills
Director: Mark Gibson

Manufacturer: Technicolor
MPAA Rating: R for (language and some substance abuse)
Run Time: 01h:33m:47s
Release Date: February 26, 2002
UPC: 658149793620
Genre: drama

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

One of the most tired clichés in writing about movies is, when talking about the location of a story, insisting that "the place becomes another character in the film." Places don't walk and talk and think and act; only characters do that. Of course, some stories could only happen in one place (say, Chinatown), while others are deliberately vague about their locale (Pulp Fiction, for instance). Lush is a case study of a movie that is deeply in love with its setting, but doesn't have a whole lot else to offer. New Orleans is a fine city, but this movie could have used a story to go along with it.

Campbell Scott plays Lionel "Ex" Exley, former touring PGA pro, just sprung from ninety days in the big house for trying to bribe an officer of the law. He returns to his hometown of New Orleans, apparently to pick up his clubs, but really because it seems as good a place to lay low as any. His pedigree puts him in good stead, though, and soon he's traveling in just the right circles—his new best pal is Firmin (Jared Harris), a Louisiana lawyer who drinks martinis like mother's milk and whose morning regimen is writing a suicide note, firing an empty shotgun with his mouth on the barrel, then filing the note away with all the others (conveniently cross-referenced by tone: Wistful, Angry, Elegaic, and so forth). Firmin has a portrait of Tennessee Williams lovingly displayed in his home, and seems to take Williams' tales of dissolute alcoholics with shattered pipe dreams as a guidebook to life.

Ex meets up with Rachel, an impossibly rich divorcée ("As my daddy likes to say, I may have married dumb, but I divorced smart.") with whom he went to high school—she's played by Laura Linney, a fine actress without much to do here, and a poor excuse for an accent to do it with. Equally intriguing to Ex is Rachel's kid sister, Ash (Laurel Holloman), a single mother who looks just terrific in her bathing suit, lounging by the kiddie pool. Soon Ex has moved into Firmin's house, and his new host, in a drunken gesture of misguided good will, takes out an insurance policy on his own life, making his new best buddy Ex the beneficiary.

Will you be shocked to learn that Firmin soon goes missing? Ex is charged with murder, and his accomplices are allegedly a couple of morons in Firmin's employ, played brilliantly by James R. Hall, Jr. and James 'Kimo' Wills, one of whom has a hilarious theory about Dick Clark being the Antichrist. Ex just keeps ambling along, though, and that's sort of the problem with the movie. Even with all suspicious eyes on him, Ex doesn't have very much in mind—he doesn't want to clear his name or find his missing friend, he just wants to take another slug from his fifth of Southern Comfort and polish up his short game. (And every now and again put the moves on Laura Linney.) The movie is a little bottom heavy with story—you may find your mind wandering during the first half hour especially—but even when things get up and running, it's still only half-hearted. It's evocative of New Orleans, in a Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil sort of way; or of a small upper stratum of the Crescent City, anyway. Things get a little perkier toward the very end, when Rachel hosts a party with everyone, men and women, in drag; Campbell Scott makes a bruiser of a woman. And in the last minutes you get the sense that the director is just messing around, when for no particular reason characters start speaking directly to the camera, in an untidy effort to wrap things up.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: C


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - P&S
Original Aspect Rationo

Image Transfer Review: The panning and scanning here is truly appalling. It's unclear how the film was originally conceived, but much of it looks just ghastly. For instance, there are a number of scenes with two character seated across from one another—at a restaurant, say—and the sides of the frame bisect both actors, leaving us looking at a pair of noses and lunch instead of characters interacting. The director seems especially fond of mirror shots which, when hacked up this way, become completely nonsensical. There's a whole lot of debris gumming up the works, bits of dirt on the image. Just a generally sloppy job all around.

Image Transfer Grade: D


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno

Audio Transfer Review: Things sound better than they look, but then, they would have to. Dynamics are generally acceptable, though the audio mix isn't an especially warm one.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: A generous number of chapter stops and a trailer, edited at a fast clip, are the only extras on hand.

Extras Grade: D+


Final Comments

If travel plans to the Big Easy fell through, Lush might provide some small comfort in place of beignets or a meal in the Quarter. But the horrid video presentation makes it rough to watch on DVD, and the story problems will have your thoughts meandering.


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