Lindsay Lohan has gotten a bad rap over the past few years. She’s been in and out of rehab, fired from this very film on the first day, and just generally has completely destroyed her former persona… the one people liked. I understand wanting to shed the “I’m the most treasured actress in America, everyone thinks I’m so incredibly cute”. The sad thing is Lohan has essentially crashed and burned. Instead of shedding her cute-child persona, Lohan has taken things way beyond and become kind of a despicable character. It’s fitting I suppose, even in a movie like this, despicable is probably listed in every single character description in the script.
THE CANYONS is the story of an affluent young couple, Tara and Christian (played by Lohan and adult film star James Deen… (Wait, WHAT!) Tara and Christian have been dating for almost a year. The movie opens with the happy couple sitting down to dinner with another couple, Gina (Christian’s assistant) and her boyfriend Ryan. These are a really uncomfortable few minutes because, again, we really don’t know any of these characters. But we do get a few moments that are worthwhile.
Over the next few days (the timeline of the movie) we follow them through some ‘regular’ days, and this is when we learn about Christian and the way he treats women. Christian and Tara’s relationship deteriorates, rather quickly. Betrayal after betrayal tear at the very fabric of their connection, and Christian becomes more and more unstable…. well, he doesn’t actually change all that much but you would think he should. Instead, Christian remains largely the same as he allows paranoia to rule his life is a huge jerk and has been cheating on Tara for some time. Thanks to his trust fund, Christian has been able to invest in a few movies and maintain a lush lifestyle. A lifestyle Tara wants, even though the trade-off could kill her.
Ever a study in contrasts, THE CANYONS spends little time explaining itself. The characters, their motivations and their backstories get very little time, eschewing the Hollywood norm of spending way too much time listening to exposition. But, like casting Lohan, the pendulum swung a little bit too far the other way and we’re left with characters who really don’t deserve our time. What’s more is that there isn’t a single relatable character or moment in the entire movie. Its almost as though screenwriter (and author) Bret Easton Ellis just really wanted to shoot a made-for-Cinemax soft-core pornographic film and make no mistake, he got his wish.
THE CANYONS spends a great deal of time showing us what is wrong with the characters without ever really giving us an opportunity to connect with them in any way. The result? We just don’t care and there isn’t much (if anything) they could do to make me care anymore at this point. It’s really hard to connect with characters when they exhibit NO REDEEMING QUALITIES, and that’s the case with THE CANYONS.