Lost and Delirious Léa Pool
Published Aug 01, 2001Lost and Delirious is an overwrought and overwritten coming of age movie set in an all-girls boarding school. The story is told from the perspective of Mouse (Mischa Barton), a new girl at the school who is placed to room with two popular older students the wild Paulie (Piper Perabo) and the beautiful Tory (Jessica Paré) who quickly take Mouse under their wing. Mouse learns a thing or two about love and sex as she realises her new friends and roomies are embroiled in a passionate love affair. Things go awry when the girls are discovered by some younger students in a compromising position and Tory, fearing the wrath of her conservative family, denies any intimate relationship with Paulie and begins dating a boy to save face. This drives the Paulie over the edge and she begins to try to woo Tory back with a slew of increasingly psychotic romantic gestures. Poor little Mouse is caught in the middle and does a lot of looking surprised and confused.
The script for this movie, written by Canadian playwright Judith Thompson based on the novel The Wives Of Bath by Susan Swan, is pretty poor. There is some voice-over narration from Mouse's perspective that is probably lifted directly from the book and comes across as too formal and out of place. There are extended English class segments where Shakespeare and other relevant romantic and passionate poets are quoted and analysed ad nauseum in an ultra-symbolic fashion. Perhaps worst of all, there is a heavy-handed metaphoric side plot in which Paulie nurses a sick raptor (the bird, not the dinosaur) back to health and teaches it to fly. The director is hardly blameless in all of this, especially for her use of countless lingering soft focus close-ups on the various girls' pensive faces while angsty female singer-songwriter tunes play meaningfully in the background. For all the young and earnest passion that these girls are supposed to be experiencing, the film remains curiously un-involving.
The Mouse character, who is meant to draw the audience into the story, seems strangely inconsequential to the main story events and too weak to have her own journey be of interest, and Piper Perabo's Paulie gets so over-the-top crazy so fast that sympathising with her is very difficult. Jessica Pare's Tory fares a little better, as she manages to convey the terrified teenager conflicted by making the cowardly choice to deny her love. None of these young actors are given much to work with though, judging by the cringe-worthy, unbelievable dialogue that they are forced to bandy about.