Two distraught mothers, whose children were gunned down in a drive-by, team up to avenge their deaths after local authorities fail to take action.
“Lila and Eve,” the Lifetime movie with Jennifer Lopez and Viola Davis that premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, starts off as a promising gritty drama, but slowly falls into a pit of one-dimensional characters and clichés saved only, and barely, by Davis’ performance.
This is a movie that would surely be dismissed very quickly had it not been helmed by such a talented actress. In it, Davis portrays Lila, a grieving mother whose teenage son is gunned down in a drive-by. During a support group meeting, she meets the fearless Eve (Lopez), another grieving mother who convinces Lila to embark on a bloody quest for revenge against her son’s killers.
There is nothing wrong with that synopsis per se, but rather with the direction the movie takes with it. Revenge can many times feel completely justified – just look at “Kill Bill” and “Oldboy” – but here it feels like it goes way over the top, with the two women happily taking selfies in between murders, as if they were psychopaths who felt absolutely no regret for their actions. Wouldn’t a normal person, especially one who just lost a son, feel terrified and miserable after killing another human being?
Jennifer Lopez, who is not exactly renowned for her acting skills, here does a way better job than in other works she is remembered for such as the atrocious “Gigli.” The problem is that she is only great in her first few scenes – after that, she repeats the same speech over and over: “we gotta find those guys,” “we gotta take revenge,” “I got it all figured out.” She felt not like a person but like a little Devil over Lila’s shoulder, convincing her to do bad things. All she was missing was the horns.
Although all that makes sense if you consider the completely unnecessary twist that savvy viewers will detect still in the first act, it doesn’t make the movie any better. If only the creators had focused on telling a good story about two strong women who deal with their losses together, this would have been a much better film. Instead, they took the “psychological thriller” route (which this movie barely is – it’s lacking all the psychology) and it was a shame to see such potential wasted.
In theaters July 17th