I have a few more Laura Linney movies in my Netflix queue. Someone asked me which of her roles was my favorite and I couldn’t name it. I think I like her because she has a subtle screen presence that is strong without being overpowering. In Mark Gibson’s Lush she is not subtle, strong, or overpowering. She, and the rest of the movie, is as dull as dishwater.
Ex (Campbell Scott), a low level PGA semi-pro is far better at drinking than at golf. He returns to New Orleans after a stint in an Arkansas jail after trying to bribe a cop who pulled him over for possible DUI. That is plot one.
Plot two is about a serious professional alcoholic attorney Firmin Carter (Jared Harris). Not only is he an alcoholic he is someone very interested in suicide, but only of the passive kind—he wants someone else to help. This lack of commitment or latitude is the only consistent motif which is probably by accident than design.
These plots interweave when Carter invites Ex to play golf with his buddies, whom he hates. The course they play is the one that Ex used to play (and that his father maintained). The buddies went to a Country Day School where Ex also attended (on scholarship) but did not graduate. Ex essentially sharks Carter’s buddies. Since he is spending so much time at the course, he is able to make acquaintances with two women he would ordinarily not be able to: sisters Rachel Van Dyke (Laura Linney) and Ash Van Dyke (Laurel Holloman). Rachel is extremely wealthy due mainly to divorce and spends a goodly amount of time sleeping around. Her sister is a single mother and spends some of her time doing the same thing.
There are a few standard New Orleans weirdos in what is a predictable and sloppy story.
Imagine this analysis section being told with a very languid fake N.O. accent; it may be the only thing at all good about this declassé film.
It did take me a rather long time to determine what the title of this movie meant. I was trying to find any amount of greenery. Then I tried to look for any amount of real beauty (some people come close but none of them are really as pretty as the olive in the bottom of a martini). It was only after I had time to get rid of the heartburn created by this hopefully forgettable attempt that I realized what Lush meant—everyone in the film except one little boy is a very heavy drinker; they are all lushes. How boring is that?
The acting is sub-par (fitting for a failed golfer) at best and embarrassing at worst—and the worst is really bad. There was no attempt to bring New Orleans into the story enough, the gutters and blind alleyways could be in any city anywhere. Other than naming the city, the street cars would be the only clue, so the cinematography is DOA. I despise both blues and jazz, but New Orleans screams each so that they overlap. Not so in Lush which has no memorable soundtrack. Down and outers practically beg for the blues; in this film it is all begging and no payout.
As I said above, the story is terrible. Even given, what to me is purposeful, the way New Orleans is filled with odd people, Lush only barely tips its visor to this facet of the city. So it is neither funny nor weird in any meaningful way. This is one of those films where I wonder: was there a moment where either the director or one of the principle actors said “Man, this sucks, let’s not waste any more time on it—I’ve got a plane to catch that will take me to a movie that makes more sense.” If they did not, they should have. Seriously.
Finally, there is no version of the film in letter-box, so even the producers decided not to waste any money on the additional costs (not sure screen ratio is more expensive but believe it is) to use the correct ratio in order to see something close to the way this stinker of a movie would look on the big screen.
Even if you like anyone involved with this film, there is no reason at all to see it.
What did you think of this review?