Liz & Dick
There was so much anticipation surrounding "Liz & Dick." The made-for-TV movie was heralded as troubled actress Lindsay Lohan’s acting comeback, after all the maligned ins and outs of her tabloid-riddled life. The scandalous backstory surrounding the greatest affair of the 20th Century between Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, should have written itself into a fascinating drama. It’s unfortunate that in this teleplay this love story for the ages is realized to short order as merely an expensive student film, lacking at all in a senior thesis.
It wouldn’t be fair to put all of what’s wrong with "Liz & Dick" on Lohan, but for an actor that is often mentioned to have as much considerable talent as she has lack of judgment, the audience would have hoped for a more present performance from Lohan and cast.
Lohan comes off coolly like a well-studied first year acting student, overwhelmed at the task of the embodying Taylor. There’s too much Lindsay and not enough Liz in her performance, which is still very thinly developed in the script. The real Liz Taylor lived so much of her life in the public eye, thumbing her nose at the critics, that it should have been easy to transpose all that irreverence to the screen.
And as for the love story: the chemistry between these two actors...Lohan and her co-star Grant Bowler who portrays Burton - there’s close to nothing. In fact Bowler appears often terrified, maybe at the prospect of contending with passionate love scenes opposite Lohan’s lukewarm attraction to him.
Lohan mumbles through her lines and barely displays the regality that made Taylor a star. She doesn’t even make an attempt to sound like Taylor. There’s very little going on behind the phony looking purple contact lenses. Other actors would have relished sliding into the iconic skin of these two Hollywood idols. You wonder if Grant Bowler’s performance suffers because of Lohan’s disconnect.
Not that Lohan doesn’t have moments. She coyly embodies the chaste sense of the then budding young woman at the start of the romance between Liz and Dick. The fiery argument are entertaining at the most, and at the least Lohan doesn’t play Taylor as a manipulative vixen even when she’s inclined to vamp it up; her Taylor is more an empty vessel looking to be filled.
Lohan plays up to the paparazzi and camp aspect of the film, but she miserably fails to subscribe to what Hollywood glamour was all about during that the hey day of the film era. Her performance becomes as flat as the green screen the actors are forced to play against for lack of a budget.
In the least Liz & Dick is more appreciated as an invitational drinking game. So pull out that bottle of spirits. Every time Lohan looks up into her eyelids struggling for some kind of subtext - take a swig. Every time she awkwardly holds a cigarette or uncomfortably storms out of the room in heels - take two. You’ll be drunk inside of ten minutes, making "Liz & Dick" much more tolerable in the end. Less homage, and more farce than expected.
"Liz & Dick" starring Lindsay Lohan
Available on DVD for $19.98