Lost and Delirious (2001) from Tuna and Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Tuna's comments in white:

Lost and Delirious (2001) is finally being released in the US next week, and we now have DVD captures of the lesbian scene between Piper Perabo and Jessica Paré, as well as additional topless nudity from both. I really don't know how to review this film. Ebert adored it at 3 1/2 stars, and about half of the critics also liked it. The other half of the critics agree with me that it is over-wrought and full of clichés with a lot of artsy and needless symbolism. I also found it over-long. All three principles  gave good performances, and the production value was there, other than the score which I found distracting and irritating. The problem for me was the story.

As the film opens, Mischa Barton is being taken to an exclusive boarding school by her father, as her step mother wants her out of the way. She is put in a room with Perabo and Paré, whom she soon discovers are not only long time friends, but lovers. They help her be accepted and adapting to the school, and she finds that she has little trouble accepting their relationship. The conflict starts when Paré is caught naked in bed with Perabo by her little sister. She is unwilling to come out of the closet and lose her conservative family, so she lies to her sister, dumps Perabo, and starts dating a boy. For the rest of the film, Perabo becomes increasingly frantic and obsessive about winning her back, and Barton befriends her. This is exactly the point where I mentally gave up on the story. I felt like nobody behaved responsibly, or even logically from that point on. I don't want to write a spoiler, as, if the critics are right, half of you will like this. I can't give more than a C, despite the nudity, acting and photography. The story just didn't work for me. The film is most popular with young girls and old men according to IMDB 

Scoopy's comments in yellow: 


Tuna really nailed the salient point in his last sentence. It scores astronomically among (a) girls who are the same age as the high school protagonists of the movie (2) old guys who want to see girls that age naked, and belly upon belly.

The arithmetic IMDb rating of this movie is a mystery to me. The average score of all votes is 7.9, and the median is 8. 77% of all voters have voted seven or more, but the "weighted average" is 6.5. IMDb says it has a special system which determines the rating by tossing out suspicious ballots. Get this, "to prevent abuse of the system, we do not disclose what the additional factors and calculations are." In other words, one additional factor might be a dartboard, and that may count for 99.99% of the score. They use the Dean Wormer method, and put all films on double top-secret probation!

This was possibly the most misunderstood film of the year, because 90% of the reviews missed the central point. It isn't about normal adolescent angst, or about lesbianism. It's about madness. The central character challenges her ex-lover's new lover to a duel, and eventually kills herself by leaping off a building with her hawk. She plummets to the ground, while the hawk soars free, no longer a prisoner of the broken body that the girl nursed back to health. Let's be honest here. Normal people don't stab people with swords or commit grandiloquent suicidal gestures. They do not do that whether they are heterosexual or homosexual. They do not do that even if they lost the love of their life. 

This story is about her descent into uncontrolled hysteria. The Perabo character has "never been loved", finds a love, and when she loses it, she also loses her tenuous grip on reality. I think that if the first person who had ever truly loved her had been male, and a genuinely good person, that the male would have become her obsessive love. As it turns out, it is a beautiful girl with whom she shares a dormitory room. But the lesbianism is not really central to the story. There's nothing uniquely lesbian about her feelings. She could as easily be a boy or a girl who lost a heterosexual lover. 

We all go through something similar in adolescence. We do not all resolve it with swordplay or jumping off buildings with our pet hawks. 

Except maybe in Scandinavia.


see the main commentary
The unbalanced girl is not in a normal environment where she would have the balance of other friends, or commonplace cultural continuity. She is in a girl's boarding school, and an outcast, and she has to live and sleep in the same room with the lover who has rejected her! Every day in class, she is subjected to the environment of the Victorian writers or Shakespeare, who dramatize love and action in ways and speeches larger than life. In her mind, she becomes the central figure in the Shakespearian Tragedy of her own life, and loses her grip on the normal things that anchor our lives. In this boarding school, they don't have daily newspapers or TV sitcoms or news programs or little brothers, or all those little things that keep us in touch with the everyday, commonplace world. 

Her world becomes a Shakespearian one. It was strange to see Piper Perabo impersonating a hysterical Shakespearian character, but she did do a pretty good Richard Harris impersonation.

The kind of cloistered atmosphere pictured here has to have an impact on anybody thrust into it in adolescence, but it has a profound impact upon this girl whose grip on reality has already been shaky. I guess you could argue that the grand tragic scale and the hysterical soliloquies shouted to the heavens, in imitation of Heathcliffe and Catherine, or Antony and Cleopatra, were justified in light of her environment and her obvious madness. I didn't much enjoy her descent into self-pitying Shakespearian madness. This kind of story isn't the way I want to pass my time. But I have to concede that it has an internal poetic consistency to it.

Of course, it's OK storytelling when a mad person acts mad. After all, Caligula once challenged Neptune to a duel, and spent quite a bit of time smacking his sword into the waves. Where the film loses its own grasp of reality is in the behavior of the people around her. They are supposed to be sane. The people around Caligula had to indulge his madness in order to keep their heads. The people around Perabo wouldn't have been indulging her, I don't think. They wouldn't have been encouraging her madness, but forcing her to get some treatment.

DVD info from Amazon.

  • Widescreen anamorphic, 1.85:1

  • no features

I am a bit surprised that nobody noticed her losing her grip, or tried to get her into therapy or onto some mood-altering drugs. Human beings are resilient, and overcome far greater losses than anything she endured. Human beings have far more difficult environments than the one in which she grew up, yet they grow to adulthood, and even find happiness. 

The film loses credibility in the behavior of the people around her who fail to notice the problem, and fail to take action. Nonetheless, it does have some raw emotional power aimed at a defined target audience, and it does have two great looking young women topless.

The Critics Vote

  • General consensus: three stars. Ebert 3.5/4, Apollo 76/100.

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 6.6, Apollo users 90/100
  • With their dollars ... it was a disaster. The studio never got it onto more than 20 screens. After 9 weeks it disappeared with only $300,000 in total domestic gross.
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, Tuna says this film is a C. Scoop says: I think C+. A classic cult film. Loved by its adherents and those to whom it speaks personally, but with absolutely no crossover appeal to mainstream viewers (including me). It would be the ultimate chick-flick, except that many men will watch it for the lesbian love scenes, which feature two beautiful young girls topless.

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