The Canyons (R)

Suspense/Thriller 99 August 9, 2013
By Stephanie Zacharek
A movie can be highly imperfect, stilted, or implausible in all sorts of ways-- and still be everything you go to the movies for. The Canyons, Paul Schrader's contemplation of moral decay in Hollywood, is that kind of picture, in some places so crazy-silly you want to laugh and in others so piercing you can't turn away. Lindsay Lohan plays Tara, a woman who could be a Hollywood climber but who really, maybe, just wants to survive. The boyfriend she's latched onto is suitable only on the surface: Christian (the adult-film performer James Deen) is an egotistical trust-fund kid who dabbles in producing horror movies. For fun, he invites outsiders into his and Tara's home for three- and four-way couplings, which he captures on his cell phone. Tara used to have a much nicer boyfriend, a not-at-all-sleazy hunk of an actor named Ryan (Nolan Funk). She pulls strings to get Ryan into one of Christian's movies, though it's not long before the current boyfriend senses that the specter of the old one hasn't quite vanished. Christian's possessiveness flowers into something sinister, like a hothouse Hollywood version of Liaisons Dangereuses. Even with so much full-frontal male nudity, Lohan is really all you want to look at. Tara is a nectarine on the far side of ripening, and this isn't a story about innocence lost-- she sold that off a long ago. But there's a dreaminess about her that could never crystallize into hardness. When her friend Gina (Amanda Brooks) asks why she scaled back her involvement in Christian's fledgling film, Tara asks, "When was the last time you saw a movie that really meant something to you?"
Paul Schrader Lindsay Lohan, James Deen, Nolan Gerard Funk, Gus Van Sant, Amanda Brooks, Tenille Houston, Lauren Schacher, Jarod Einsohn, Alex Ashbaugh, Michelle LaRue Bret Easton Ellis Braxton Pope IFC Films


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