The Canyons 2013 ***

If you take late period Paul Schrader, post-Affliction but pre-First Reformed, and give him an original script by Bret Easton Ellis, you’d expect some nihilistic stuff, and in The Canyons, you’d be pretty much right.  Loathed by audiences and critcs on initial release, a quiet revival on Amazon Prime should help rehabilitate the reputation of this cool, otherworldly thriller. Ellis has cultivated a specific style of expression through narration and dialogue, but he strips out the pop-culture references and has his characters express themsleves in an even more opaque way here, which creates a striking blankness ideal for privileged LA wheeler-dealer Chritian (James Deen) and his floozie wife (Lindsay Lohan). There’s an undercurrent of menace, and a disturbing lack of the kind of moral spoonfeeding that most films offer, making The Canyons somewhat experimental in outlook. Letting it all hang out, Lohan gives the film’s best performance, and mature viewers seeking a bitter shot of the darker side of Hollywood could do worse than giving The Canyons a visit.


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