Sony Edits Again!
A. Carpenter | Michigan | 01/14/2006
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Sony has done it again. As with their edited-for-an-"R" release of Young Adam, Sony has altered this release of Lila Says. During a scene where the lead characters look through an erotic comic book, all of the panels of the comic have been digitally fogged. Once again an unrated theatrical release of a foreign film has been dummied down to an "R" by everyone's favorite substitute parent, Sony.
Who do they think they are protecting? What do they think will happen if adults see the full versions of these films? Why do they distribute these movies if they have a problem with the contents? Your guess is as good as mine.
Great movie, bad presentation.
Save your dough until Sony grows up and releases an un-edited version."
Provocative, erotic, and emotionally powerful
Daniel Jolley | Shelby, North Carolina USA | 04/27/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Lila Says . . . well, Lila says a lot of things. Suggestive things. Explicit things. Things guaranteed to send the mind of a teenaged boy spinning. The movie opens with her talking about how beautiful and well-nigh perfect she is, which got me to thinking this is a character I would certainly dislike. That first impression, however, turned out to be quite wrong. Even as Lila is saying all these highly erotic things about herself and the things she has done, there's an underlying element of innocence there I found quite appealing. She's basically a mystery girl who arrives in a predominantly Muslim section of Marseilles and quickly changes the life of one young Arab, Chimo (Mohammed Khouas), forever. Chimo is already at a crossroads in life as the story begins. His teacher thinks he has enough talent to attend a famous writing school in Paris, yet his family is poor and his gang of friends is basically no good. Which way will he go?
As we watch Chimo join his friends in a robbery, we can see he's heading down the wrong road. Lila (Vahina Giocante), though, offers him something different, and that leads to great confusion on his part. His friends do not approve when he begins hanging around with Lila - his best bud, Mahmoud (Karim Ben Haddou), is especially jealous because Lila won't even give him the time of day. His mother isn't a big fan of Lila's either, knowing the kind of reputation she has. Chimo himself doesn't understand Lila at all, which only increases his obsession with her. She seems to come and go as she pleases, turning up at odd times and places; she talks about nothing but sex - in great detail - yet he never even puts the moves on her. He's like a deer staring into a pair of onrushing headlights, a puppet on Lila's strings. I felt the same way as a viewer, actually. The film is surprisingly powerful; you're mesmerized for the first hour, and then the film's final half hour really hits you with a couple of extremely emotional blows.
As the film begins, you get the impression that this is going to be just another erotic movie with little emotional content, but it is anything but that. It's an extremely serious film that really touches you in a number of unusual ways and leaves you quite affected by the movie's shocking climax. I understand the film was rather controversial when it was released in France. It definitely earns its R rating - but mainly for explicit language and one scene of a violent nature, as there's basically no nudity at all. (As another reviewer pointed out, the naked images in an adult cartoon are blurred - how stupid is that?) This is a rather shocking movie, but that's a good thing. Most films seem to have an invisible wall that keeps you from truly connecting with the characters, but Lila Says just plows right through that wall from the very start. It makes for quite a refreshing viewing experience, and I think most viewers will be surprised at the depth of their emotional reaction to the film's denouement.
Needless to say, I was deeply impressed with this French film. I've never seen anything quite like it, and I found Vahina Giocante nothing short of amazing. She is an intoxicating presence onscreen, and her seemingly effortless performance definitely makes her one to watch for in future years."
The End of Innocence
Utah Blaine | Somewhere on Trexalon in District 268 | 08/02/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is a well done coming of age tale set in Marseille. Chimo, a French teenager of Magrebian descent, lives with his mother in a small apartment in a relatively poor neighborhood. He and his three companions (also of North African descent) do what most teenagers do; hang out, have fun, and don't really want to be bothered by anything that doesn't concern or interest them. Chimo has shown some writing ability in school, and has been invited to submit some samples to a university, but overall it is unclear where Chimo and his friends are going in life and if they will do anything productive. At one point they are involved in a petty burglary. Things take a dramatic turn when a blonde haired beauty (Lila) moves into the neighborhood with her aunt. Lila is obsessed with sex, and there is a mutual attraction between Lila and Chimo from the start. Unfortunately, the `leader' of Chimo's gang is also attracted to Lila, who couldn't possibly care any less about him. This story is partly a tale of a tragic love triangle, and partly a story of sexual awakening. Much of the dialogue between Chimo and Lila is sexual in nature (some very explicit and direct), but there is little nudity in this film. In the end though, this is a tale about the end of innocence, the often hard transformation to the realities of adulthood. Without giving too much of the story away, I thought that the message at the very end of the film was particularly well done. Things do not always turn out well in real life, but life goes on nonetheless.
This is definitely not one of the sickly-sweet, dumbed down romantic films put out by Hollywood for American audiences. One of the other reviewers stated that it was controversial when released in France. I don't know if this is true or not, but if you are looking for a film that is more complex and nuanced (edgy may be the right word to describe this film, and in some parts shocking) than the crap released by Hollywood, I would recommend this film. This film explores timeless themes: love, sexuality, and loss of innocence (i.e. the often harsh realities of growing up) in a fresh and unique manner.
Finally, I should mention that I originally (naively? foolishly?) thought this film would be about the relationship between the Arab immigrants and the native French in Marseille. There is a tendency to overemphasize the sexual overtones in the descriptions of foreign (particularly French) films when released in the US, and I had assumed that this was case for this film. The description of this film in the Plot Summary is largely accurate, and this film does not explore any French/Magreb immigrant issues."
Yara Khlat | Dubai, UAE | 07/20/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The storyline is very interesting. starts out a little slow and may be discouraging to some but ends with a brilliant twist. it is beautifully shot and produced. a brilliant story about how one person can change your life or even put things into perspective."