Sunday, September 13, 2015

Lila and Eve - from victim to vigilante

movie review

A revenge thriller fails its all-star leads with an implausible plot

Lila & Eve

Starring: Viola Davis, Jennifer Lopez, Shea Whigham, Julius Tennon, Lisa Maffia, Chris Chalk, Andre Royo, Yolonda Ross
Directed by: Charles Stone III
Tagline: Torn by loss, bound for revenge.

A grief-stricken mother sets out to take revenge for the murder of her son in Lila & Eve, a vigilante drama that may be ridiculously implausible but still offers a few poignant moments thanks to a solid performance by its lead actress, Viola Davis.

After her son Stephon (Aml Ameen) is gunned down in a drive-by shooting, his only fault just being at the wrong place at the wrong time, Lila (Davis) joins a support group for mothers who have lost a child. There, she meets fellow grieving mother Eve (Jennifer Lopez), who reluctantly agrees to become Lila’s sponsor. Frustrated by the inability of the police to find the culprit, Lila is urged by Eve to take matters into her own hands.

“The grief of your loss can be so debilitating that it can cloud your judgment,” the leader of the support group says at one point, and this sentiment forms the basis of the film’s premise. With Eve hovering at her shoulder like a proverbial bad angel, Lila sets out to find the people responsible for Stephon’s murder and brings them to justice. But as the revenge plot unfolds, the movie becomes increasingly preposterous. A twist towards the end is so heavily foreshadowed in the second half of the film that it doesn’t comes as a surprise, nor does it makes the developments seem any less ludicrous.

The movie revolves around some interesting and difficult topics but doesn’t handle them with the grace they deserve. The vigilante idea at its core is overly familiar, and many elements therein feel clich├ęd; its moral complexity largely goes unexplored, and the proceedings often end up feeling awkward and uncomfortable.
The film’s saving grace is the terrific Davis, who adds much needed nuance to her character and predicament. The actress is fiercely committed to the role, which is why the grief Lila feels is palpable. Lopez also gives a fairly decent performance and supports Davis competently as they Thelma and Louise their way through the film.

On the whole, Lila & Eve is a predictable drama that isn’t nearly as refined as one would hope. Even an impressive performance by its leading lady can’t hide the many flaws that the movie falls victim to. The storyline and how the events unfold are far from realistic. The film doesn’t instil its revenge theme with enough depth and weight, and ultimately opts for a conclusion that is pandering, nonsensical, and far from satisfying.

Rating: 2 out of 5

- By Sameen Amer

Sunday Magazine, The Express Tribune - 13th September, 2015 *

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