Matt Pais, @mattpais
RedEye movie critic
August 1, 2013
* (out of four)
Resembling the all-time dullest episode of MTV's "Undressed," "The Canyons" unfolds like Lifetime tried to make a Cinemax movie. Writer Bret Easton Ellis may also have stapled together random pages from scripts based on his superior work ("American Psycho," "The Rules of Attraction," "The Informers") and called it good.
As Tara, Lindsay Lohan blurts out line after line as if she wants to finish the take before forgetting something. As her potentially sociopathic boyfriend, Christian, porn star James Deen delivers a performance no worse than his novelty co-star, who is so far removed from stuff like "Mean Girls" that she now defaults to bland and uncertain. "The Canyons" recalls Lohan's recent turn as Elizabeth Taylor in Lifetime's "Liz and Dick," mostly in that both are totally unconvincing and really boring.
With a troubled production rivetingly documented by the New York Times, "The Canyons" provides viewers no reason to care about the beginning and middle, and zero ending, period. The plot involves the emotional volatility of people who don't appear to know what emotions feel like. Despite frequently inviting others into their bed, Christian worries that Tara may be sleeping with someone else. Like, say, Ryan (Nolan Gerard Funk), an actor who Tara helped earn the lead in an upcoming indie film. That project sounds as credible as Joey's perceived big break on "Friends," but fits the one and only partial point made by "The Canyons": some people who make movies don't really know or care about movies.
Publicity materials for "The Canyons" note the film is available "in the privacy of your own homes" on demand and iTunes beginning Friday. Anyone with Netflix or an Internet connection has access to approximately 100 billion more stimulating efforts, considering this weak "erotic thriller" is about as passionate and sexy as an eye exam.
After all, the presence of Lohan topless isn't new (see: Playboy. Or don't.). The presence of an adult film star in a non-adult film isn't either ("The Girlfriend Experience"). What's uncommon is the combination of exclusively vapid actors delivering stilted dialogue as if a porn's always about to break out -- if everyone weren't usually too irritated to get it on.
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