Horror film that could have been better
Beth | Mesa, AZ United States | 06/05/2005
(2 out of 5 stars)
"A young girl Olivia witnesses her prostitute mother get murdered by a client. Years later she becomes a bored housewife marked by the past. Another man Robert Walker Jr. enters the picture but her double life catches up with her. The movie's fine until the second half when it decides to add in a "Vertigo" like element and falters because of it. Suzanna Love and Robert Walker Jr. give good performances. Even with its problems it still is an improvement over Ulli Lommel's previous Boogeyman."
Lommel and Love's Most Compelling and Accomplished Film
Michael S. Schoeppner | USA | 07/20/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"While Ulli Lommel is best known in the States as the director of the eighties ghost-slasher flick "The Boogey Man", he has directed many other films. They seem to have deteriorated in quality over the years, but he's still cranking them out, even now in 2009. In my opinion the eighties were his best years creatively, and alongside "The Boogey Man" he made a series of other gory thrillers, including "The Devonsville Terror", "Brainwaves", and "Olivia". He cast his then-wife, Dupont heiress Suzanna Love, in all of his films during this period, and even after their divorce she continued working for him. Suzanna, who had already had small roles in Milos Forman's "Hair", as well as a couple of Lommel's other films, became a fetching and beguiling leading lady, and she brought something sympathetic and touching to all of her performances. I think that "Olivia" is the best collaboration of their careers. The title character in "Olivia" is a little girl, living in London, who witnesses the violent murder of her prostitute mother by one of her johns. Deeply traumatized, Olivia (Love) grows up to be a bored, working-class housewife. Her belligerent husband, who apparently knows nothing of his wife's experience, is condescending and cruel. He will not let Olivia work, and she spends her nights watching the hookers who work the nearby London Bridge. She begins hearing her dead mother's voice in her head, encouraging her to work as a prostitute. She does, and at her mother's command she murders one of her johns. She meets an American and falls in love, and when her husband discovers her secret life, he attempts to murder her new man. But he is killed instead, by a fall from the bridge during the scuffle. Olivia, afraid of true love and riddled by guilt and fear, flees to America and tries to block the experiences from her mind. But the man who killed her husband crosses her path again one day, and their affair resumes. But it appears that her deceased husband is still alive, and he tracks Olivia down and murders the man she loves. Ultimately, Olivia murders her ex-husband violently with a butcher knife, and dumps his body in the Colorado River. By the end of the film Olivia is a broken, tragic figure, emotionally disfigured by deep traumas in her life. She is truly a lost soul, and the ending of the movie is decidedly downbeat. No worries about a typical Hollywood ending here; "Olivia" generally seems to revel in doing the unexpected, the distasteful, and it ultimately leaves its lead character bereft, shattered, alone, and more than a little unhinged. It is a brave and original film, one that does not shy away from its own bleak and unsettling nature. There is a creepy, kinky atmosphere to "Olivia" which is very effective. The music is perfectly weird, and the many night shots in the film make it a nerve-jangling experience. It is beautifully photographed, well cast, nicely written, and effectively edited. There is never a dull moment in the film, and this is, in no small part, due to the main performance by Love. She throws herself completely into the tawdry, showy role of Olivia, and comes off better than in any of her other films. Love the actress keeps pace with her director, and in doing so gives the performance of a lifetime. Olivia is a tour-de-force role, and Love gives it her all, making her character scary and sympathetic at the same time. Lommel, equally, seems to know exactly what he wants from the material, and how to get it. Together, they turn this low-budget labor of love into a solid genre entry, one that remains effective and spooky to this very day. Highly recommended!