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Review: Lovely Molly

'It could have worked had every creative choice beyond the initial story idea not been utterly misguided.'

 

The same Eduardo Sanchez who co-directed The Blair Witch Project is now unfortunately responsible for Lovely Molly. From what I could gather during the tedious viewing process, the film concerns a psychologically scarred woman (Gretchen Lodge in her first movie role) who reaches her breaking point in the childhood home she now owns with a clueless new husband. It's a fine premise. It could have worked had every creative choice beyond the initial story idea not been utterly misguided.

This tepid feature kicks off with a crazed, dry-lipped Molly crying into a handheld camera and muttering something insane. We needn't pay much attention, as there's a lot of similarly insane muttering to follow. It mostly consists of cryptic non-sequiturs, but some of it is supposed to advance the plot, unravel some mystery about Molly's past and why she feels so haunted by her dead dad (I think). After breezing through a montage of handheld camera shots featuring Molly marrying the cardboard cutout of a man we won't ever learn about (Johnny Lewis), we settle into the creaky old house that serves as our uninspired backdrop for most of the film's excruciating 99 minutes.

Molly's husband is some kind of truck driver who conveniently stays out of town for weeks at a time and returns home here and there to see what his increasingly batsh*t wife has been up to. Usually, she's just wrapping up a drunken crying jag, but sometimes she's leaving her heroin needles lying around. Molly's a recovering drug addict, you see, and she happened to still have some junk stashed away in the attic for a rainy day. She found it while looking at old family photographs and weeping because of all the horrific memories. Hubby apparently thinks this is all par for the course, since marriage is tough and chicks are moody. So he repeatedly leaves her to fend for herself in the house, though it's morphing her into a textbook psychopath in plain sight.

The fragile addict Molly also has a concerned sister (Alexandra Holden) who openly smokes pot in front of her and doesn't want to interfere lest she step on toes and hurt feelings. Even as Molly does everything she possibly can to sabotage her low-wage job and home life through violent freak-outs and bizarre sexual aggression, Sister Hannah holds out hope for an organic resolution. This gives Molly enough time to heighten the outlandishness of her rebellious behavior in accordance with the demands of the threadbare script, which offers nothing more than these occasional spurts of all-purpose crazy.

Molly's behavior is indeed totally super crazy. Sure, it's one thing to impulsively screw your man on the kitchen floor while breakfast burns on the stove, but it's quite another to entertain the local preacher man in your living room with cigarettes, red wine and filthy come-ons. We know Molly's crazy levels are spiking when her eye shadow darkens and her choppy-chic haircut gets choppier. Seriously, she's talking about s-e-x in front of a real preacher! But that's nothing compared to what she'll do next, y'all. Just wait, because it's totally way darker than her eye shadow, even.

The main problem is that no one could possibly care what becomes of this woman or anyone else. For the whole duration of the movie, Molly has literally done nothing but react to comically generic phantom noises and whine about her dad returning from the grave or whatever her hang-up is. We don't really know who she is or what her dreams are or why she's in love with her guy or if she was ever anything other than an obnoxious inconvenience to everyone around her. As far as we're concerned, she's just a fairly cute vehicle for chronic heebie-jeebies and unsettling facial expressions, and it couldn't be less fun to watch.

Nevermind the flat characters and tensionless, emotionless plot. What's most offensive is that this is one of those films in which characters wait patiently for a location change before belatedly acknowledging the sorts of alarming statements that you'd think would elicit an immediate response. It's clear the director didn't stop to imagine how actual human beings might conduct themselves outside of his vain simulations. Opting instead to rely on empty clichés and cheap shortcuts in editing and sound effects, Sanchez all but ensured Lovely Molly would be insultingly bland and forgettable.