The magic of cinema is complex, something unfathomable which you don’t want to learn more about, so as to leave it like that, perfect and untouched, at least in your own mind. I must admit nowadays it’s quite hard to find this kind of magic in the world of cinema: everybody can learn practically anything about his/her favourite actors by following on line their lives out of the red carpet and the silver screen. Ubiquitous media have downsized the imaginative power of actors – now they’re perceived as they are, just like us, and not as flawless creatures living in an unreachable world. But there’s still a little magic swirling around some of them: it’s usually the case of once-famous artists or elderly ones, those who have tasted the honey of fame but who have been out of the hit list for a long time. It’s definitely the case of Lindsay Lohan, whose rise and fall parable could be a perfect film plot in itself. There’s nothing in her life which hasn’t been talked or written about over the years; yet, no one has been able to explain (because it can’t be explained rationally) why her star power is stronger than ever.
Take her appearance in Paul Schrader’s The Canyons, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival last September. Critics and viewers have destroyed it. The low budget shows everywhere, especially in the weak plot (written by Bret Easton Ellis) and in the bad acting, but if someone asked me, I wouldn’t mark it as totally bad. There are some haunting and fascinating shots of disused cinemas which stick to your mind and make you see there’s beauty in something flawed, too. These shots are highly yet unwillingly symbolical, in my opinion, because they reinforce the impression you get after watching the film: it’s bad but there’s something which makes you feel you haven’t wasted 99 minutes of your life. To me, that “something” is Lohan’s acting performance in the role of Tara, a woman split between an obsessively jealous boyfriend and an old flame, a good boy who probably reminds her of her own long-gone innocence. Lohan’s face features are painfully fixed because of Botox (a good actress’s worst enemy, and Lindsay IS a good actress), but she’s able to infuse her character with life. Tara’s self, split between past and present, is beautifully portrayed by the American actress, who has clearly poured part of her personality into the character.
The process has been pushed into the fashion realm, too. The scene above, set by the swimming pool at Christian’s (Tara’s boyfriend, played by James Deen), is a clear example. If you are fans of Lindsay’s style, you’ve surely identified her chain bracelet right away, since it’s been spotted on her several times since 2008, when her career was languishing but her status of fashion icon was stronger than ever.
In these candids from 2008, 2010 and from last summer you can see the massive piece of jewelry around Lindsay’s wrist. It’s not strange that she picked it as film prop, because it’s definitely one of her favourite accessories.
This is a trademark piece of Hermès jewellery, reissued in 2010 and included in the spring/summer collection. Lindsay is a fan of the French maison’s accessories (her collection of Hermès bags is to die for), so it’s no wonder she incorporated the bracelet in her character’s style. Despite some similarities, there’s a separation between actress and characters, but the line dividing them becomes thinner and thinner when it comes to style (as shown by the Hermès bracelet), because Tara dresses exactly like Lindsay. I contacted Keely Crum, the film’s costume designer, who confirmed it. After watching the film, I became obsessed with the beautiful white sunglasses she sports in the scene above, which I tried to identify to no avail; Keely explained they were Lindsay’s own (Prada maybe?). This choice was probably due to the film’s tight budget, but there’s more about it.
The sheer-paneled scarlet red swimsuit worn by Lindsay is another example of how Tara’s style is actually Lindsay’s. The Gloria bathing suit (and its daring bodysuit version) is a best-selling piece by American Apparel, spotted lots of times on celebrities.
The fact that Lindsay was spotted last year wearing a white version of the same bathing suit is clearly not a coincidence. It’s true the cast wore a wardrobe supplied by American Apparel, but Lindsay wearing the same swimsuit style she wore in real life amplifies the smoke and mirror/fiction vs reality game.
Call me shallow, but I think these are the details which make a film not easily forgettable. I don’t want to pretend I liked it, because I didn’t, but I can’t even say it’s the worst film of 2013, as many critics and bloggers have stated. As I said at the beginning, Lindsay’s star power is something which her personal issues, the drug and cosmetic surgery abuse, the negative fame haven’t spoiled. Her character has a tragic dimension, which I think reflects the actress’s own career: she’s a former actress who’s into production for a short time, but she quits because maybe it’s not her thing anymore. The title quote sounds weird because it refers to cinema, which has had such an important role in Lohan’s life. She’s very different from the redhead teenager who stole everybody’s heart in Mean Girls, but she is very honest in showing herself on screen with all her flaws. She won’t win any awards for her role in this film, but the captivating quality of her acting (spiced up by her personal issues, one must admit) makes The Canyons worth watching.