Warning: Do not be taken in by the cover of this DVD. With iron gates, murky lighting, and a creepy stone angel, Lush has the appearance of a gothic horror film. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Lush is one of those quirky crime dramas. You know the ones I mean…eccentric characters, a unique soundtrack, off kilter comedy scenes, and a murder plot. The Coen Brothers have made an art out of this kind of film. Lush tries really hard to make inroads into the genre.
The story …akes place in the “Big Easy” and involves an ex-con (Campbell Scott), who likes to golf, and gets involved in a murder plot involving a repressed, depressed lawyer (Jared Harris). The story is told, at times, in flashbacks. Scott becomes embroiled, in crime noir style, in a “world of ****”. The solution to the puzzle, of course, is all a big con. Who’s conning whom….yadda yadda yadda. The problem with the story telling is that we’re never really quite sure what’s going on. There’s a lack of narrative clarity, which is really important in a crime film.
The acting is fairly solid. I’ve always like Campbell Scott. He’s an excellent everyman, with above average comic sensibility. Check out Mamet’s The Spanish Prisoner or Scott’s own film Big Night…for proof. Laura Linney makes an appearance here as a high society New Orleans eccentric. I suppose she had to make these kind of films before giving amazing performances in You Can Count On Me and Mystic River. The real find of the film is Jared Harris. He plays his tortured lawyer with the kind of grace you might find in something written by Tennessee Williams.
This is Mark Gibson’s only film. I don’t know if he’s making another one. Gibson knows the story he has, but I’m not sure if he knows how to tell it. Narratively and tonally, Lush is all over the place.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack is not bad. The opening credit sequence of the film sounds really good. The music of the movie is quite clear, and the clacking trains sound authentic. Almost makes you feel like you’re going to get run over. Ouch. Good environmental effects. The film takes place in New Orleans, so the outdoors scenes, with bugs, come across well.
Well… the look of Lush isn’t that lush. The golf courses don’t look too gorgeous… but I think this a good thing. The tendency, with New Orleans films, is to play up the color and murky heat/chicken gumbo aspects of the city. The filmmakers resist the temptation here, which is refreshing. The transfer, like the audio, looks its best in the opening credit sequence. However, after that, the film is marred with intermittent flecks and specks. With the exception of the credits, the film is shown in a cramped full screen 1.33:1.
There is one trailer for the film. It’s in good condition. And it tries to play up the “quirky”, rollicking qualities of the movie. It’s a good sell job. Too bad the movie ain’t all that.
There are also Spanish Subtitles for those who like to read in Spanish.
As a film, Lush needs a twelve step program. It tries really hard to be “quirky”, but there’s nothing worse than forced quirkiness. However, the performances are solid, and the video and audio are commendable. But beware of the DVD cover. It’s false advertising.
Special Features List
- Theatrical Trailer