Director: Anna Foerster
Writers: Maggie Cohn and Jack Stanley
Starring: Allison Janney, Jurnee Smollett, Logan Marshal-Green, Ridley Bateman
Netflix’s latest thriller, Lou, started its life as a script from Maggie Cohn that was on the 2015 Black List, before being picked up by JJ Abrams’s Bad Robot, with director Anna Foerster signing on as director in 2016. In the long road to being released the film was picked up by Netflix and was released today.
It follows Lou (Allison Janney), who is living on a remote island and clearly holding onto a secret. We know that from the opening scene, which shows her preparing to commit suicide, before the main story takes hold, and you instantly want to know more about her. She clearly doesn’t like people, shrugging off any niceties from the locals on the island as she goes about her day. She shows no empathy to her tenant Hannah (Jurnee Smollett), who can’t afford rent as she’s preparing for the incoming storm the island is facing.
The mystery of Lou’s past and the secret and redacted documents she has in her possession, really grab you instantly. It’s a great opening, and not all of the cards are played straight away. It takes a while for everything to settle into place, which keeps you hooked as the story starts to get going. During the storm, Hannah’s power goes out and while she’s trying to get it back, her daughter Vee (Ridley Batemen) is kidnapped, by her estranged father Philip (Logan Marshall-Green), who had previously faked his own death. Hannah goes to Lou in order to get help, who doesn’t hesitate at all to set off after Philip and find Vee before they’re able to leave the island.
There are some pretty decent action sequences throughout the film, most notably when Lou takes on two of Philip’s henchmen in a shack in the middle of nowhere. You get to see her fighting skills in full force as she makes full us of her surroundings to take them down. Using an opened food tin as a makeshift knife and throwing steaming food over them. It’s a real rough fight scene, and the best piece of action in it. Allison Janney is really great in the scene, as well as giving a brilliant performance the rest of the film.
There’s a twist around two-thirds of the way through, where we’re given the motive for everything that Philip is doing. While it comes as a bit of a shock, it does make the film a little messy, and it’s around that point that everything really starts to lose steam. We already knew that Lou had a secret, but when it’s revealed it doesn’t really connect in an emotional way. It doesn’t land correctly as it’s over the top and silly but still takes itself seriously. What starts of being a more grounded and gritty version of Taken, ends up with a one-on-one fight on the beach with CIA helicopters closing in.
Lou is a fine film, but ultimately, it’s not very good. The first half is great, but it fails to stick the landing and ends up being a little dragged out. Once the reveal has happened, there’s still a fair bit of story left to go, but it’s not tense or exciting. Just going through the motions until the final credits roll.
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