Viola Davis and Jennifer Lopez star in "Lila & Eve," the "Thelma & Louise"-esque drama-thriller from director Charles Stone III, which also features Shea Whigham, Julius Tennon, Ron Caldwell, and Aml Ameen in front of the camera.
The story follows Lila (Davis), a grief-stricken mother reeling from her son’s murder, who attends a support group where she meets Eve (Lopez), who urges her to take matters into her own hands to track down her son’s killers. They pair then embark on a journey of sweet revenge.
ChickFlick Productions and JuVee Productions are producers on the film – JuVee Productions is Viola Davis’ production company, which she co-founded with her husband Julius Tennon.
You’ll recall when Davis launched JuVee Productions a couple of years ago, with the intent being to create and produce projects for herself, which is essentially what she’s done in this case.
The film opens in select theaters today, July 17, and is also available on VOD platforms like iTunes and Amazon Video, where you can rent it for $7 and watch in the comfort of your living room. I missed its press screenings here in NYC, so I’ll likely watch it at home via Amazon video, on my humongous HD TV, some time this weekend, and share my thoughts after.
In the meantime, here’s what critics who’ve seen the film, are saying about it; first the good stuff:
From the LA Times: A standard-issue female vigilante thriller that’s skillfully elevated by the performances of leads Viola Davis and Jennifer Lopez.
From Variety: Davis is the reason this movie stands to be something more than a straight-to-oblivion telepic. We feel her pain, and we want to see justice done.
From The Wrap: July 16, 2015 In a just world, this deeply compassionate and politically relevant revenge fantasy would do for Viola Davis what last year’s Alzheimer’s odyssey did for Julianne Moore: deliver a long overdue Oscar to one of the finest actresses of her generation.
And from the Seattle Times: Davis’ portrayal of a mother’s pain, moving from hopelessness and despair to revenge and regret, gives the picture its impressive power.
Obviously, much love for Viola Davis’ performance in the film, as you’d expect.
Now for the not-so good:
From the New York Times: "Lila and Eve" deteriorates into a tawdry shoot-’em-up whose screenplay takes an ill-advised surreal twist that propels the movie deep into the ozone.
From the Washington Post: Davis ends up a wasted resource. She does her best to elevate the material, but the story fails to live up to her considerable talents.
From The Hollywood Reporter: It’s an instant camp classic, especially because it takes itself so adorably seriously.
And finally, from the Philadelphia Inquirer: A mid-point twist is particularly ridiculous, and in an attempt to reconcile this turning point, the final act of the movie becomes a mess.
So, there’s obviously a twist at some point in the film that’s "ill-advised" (as the New York Times puts it) and "ridiculous" (per the Philly Inquirer) that does more to hurt than help the film. And also, it’s campy, which is fine, as long as the filmmakers know that it’s camp, and handle it accordingly. There’s little worse in cinema than unintentional camp.