3. Meanwhile, Indiewire’s Eric Kohn calls The Canyons “as bad as it looks”; its failure, he posits, lies in the fact that “instead of commenting on the vapidity of the film industry, [the] miscast, poorly executed, and utterly soulless drama is an example of the failing art form it seeks to indict.” Though there seem to be some interesting ideas at play, “Schrader and his team never manage to put them into action.” Other fun sound bytes? It’s a “self-conscious trainwreck” that leads from “relatively tame scenes of sexual humiliation” to “a rather predictable murder,” with LiLo being “as bland and unfocused as the material.” Grade: D+. Wonder what kept it from being a flat-out fail?
4. And finally we have Todd McCarthy over at the Hollywood Reporter, who considers the whole thing “a lame, one-dimensional and ultimately dreary look at peripheral Hollywood types not worth anyone’s time either onscreen or in real life.” Ellis’ script “employs nothing but melodramatic clichés in relating the manipulative and duplicitous doings of characters altogether interchangeable in their tediousness and lack of distinct personalities”; Schrader, meanwhile, “had far more to work with in his last foray into scum-bucket Hollywood behavior in the excellent Auto Focus.”
As for the acting? Lindsay actually gets off light here, with her performance being “OK but unexceptional”; most of McCarthy’s ire is saved for James Deen’s Christian, who he describes as a “boring cousin” of American Psycho’s Patrick Bateman (perhaps the most famous of Ellis’ entitled “I want it all” types) and The Talented Mr. Ripley’s Tom Ripley. “You have to wonder about the casting of Deen,” McCarthy writes; “There is some obvious publicity value in the move, but his performance is entirely one note in a part that makes little sense from the outset. Christian’s. sour attitude and bad behavior would take a charismatic and insinuating actor to make him palatable, so Deen’s lack of real acting experience represents an insurmountable handicap. Physically, he does let it all hang out in one brief shot as he makes his way to the orgy bedroom, but the question remains: If you’re not intending to make use of a porn actor’s attributes, why cast him if there are other actors who could bring more to the scenes?”
So there you have it, Bettys: In all likelihood, The Canyons is both awful and uncomfortable. I do kind of have to wonder how much these reviews might be colored by its writers’ preconceived notions about it; often, if we expect something to be bad, we’ll ultimately determine it to be bad once we actually see it. I’ll admit that I’m still kind of curious, although I’m not totally sure I’m willing to spend $15 on it (who else is frustrated with the rising prices of movie tickets?).
Tell us: Are you curious enough to shell out for a ticket to The Canyons?
Lucia Peters is BettyConfidential’s senior editor.