Lost And Delirious Review

Mary (Mischa Barton) is a young girl who hides behind the nickname of Mouse. This allows her to remain quiet and to hide behind others. Now, she is merely sitting in silence behind her father and her stepmother as they drive her to an all girls' boarding school where she has been newly enrolled as a student. There, she is welcomed by Paulie (Piper Perabo) and Victoria, or Tori (Jessica Paré), who take her running with them in the morning, fencing in the gymnasium and eating together at the long tables in the school dining hall. Even before her first day is out, Paulie has spiked the punch and swapped the chamber music for punk. They end the day dancing in the garden. Paulie gives Mary a new nickname, Mary Brave. But Mary learns that she will not be sharing in all that Paulie and Tori do. Looking out of the room of the bedroom that she shares with Pauline and Tori, she sees the two of them sharing a kiss on the rooftop.

For the film that Lost And Delirious is, a boarding school is a perfect setting. It is a literate film but only in so far that it quotes texts that will be familiar to GCSE and A Level Literature students, Macbeth in particular. Its love affair is not the kind that is shared between mature women, whose romance is tempered by real-life concerns. Instead, the love that exists between Paulie and Tori is intense, exciting and all-consuming, both girls helpless to it. Furtive glances and rooftop kisses at night give way to the two girls sharing a bed and, as natural an affair as it is, Mary lies awake at night listening to them, their whispers and kisses giving her comfort when, far away from her family, she feels most in need of it.

The mood is not unlike that of a summer's day, which seems as though it might never end. This is reflected even in the sun that lights up the boarding school, with long days, cool blue evenings and warm nights. But end it does with Tori's younger sister bursting in through the door of Paulie's bedroom and finding her in bed with Tori. A day in which Paulie and Tori attempt to excuse their behaviour leads to them denying their affair, Paulie laughing off any suggestion that she might be a lesbian while Tori claims their relationship was simply a mistake. Lost And Delirious never quite decides what this romance is, be it the true love as Paulie sees it or, as Tori fatefully has it, a mere diversion in her youth. Unfortunately, for Paulie, she has not simply lost Tori but, in an all girls school that is rife with rumours about lesbians amongst the staff, all of her friends. Only Mary remains close but, in the end, even she sits apart from Paulie.

The pity is that the tone of the early half of the film becomes lost behind Paulie's breakdown. It is also much less interesting and more cliched. The film crosses from romance to drama at the very moment Allison (Emily Van Camp) walks into Tori's bedroom and soon after Paulie becomes typical of every literate teenager who has loved and lost. She takes of quoting Shakespeare, of declaring the infallibility of love and of challenge all of Tori's suitors, who are now exclusively male, to ridiculous duels. She grandstands, makes ludicrous poses and drifts wildly between happiness and depression. But Piper Perabo holds it all together. Her part calls for passion, which she delivers, but her breakdown, if never quite believable, is portrayed as a series of blows from which she recoils, be it Tori's rejection of her or the letter from she receives from an adoption agency informing her that her birth mother does not wish to see her. Perabo is very much better than Paré and is more than capable of carrying Lost And Delirious.

Mischa Barton, who has had more column inches written about her than she has had parts, isn't bad. She's not called upon to do very much, at least not in the relationship between Tori and Paulie other than to take a side, but the friendship that she strikes up with Joe Menzies (Graham Greene), the gardener, is a nice one and the longer the film dwells on Paulie's breakdown, the more one hopes to see Menzies bring a smile to Mary's face. This is, unfortunately, the only part of the film that convinces. That Lost And Delirious so wants to be poetic is obvious but it is only partly successful. The visual imagery is good but the script dwells on the troubles that befall literary youths, who give themselves wholly as they fall quickly and deeply in love. They find that little is left when love proves uncertain. And little is what Lost And Delirious has when its romance turns sour.

In spite of straying close to having been made for television, probably as a result of its middling budget, Lost And Delirious only looks fair on DVD. Some of its better imagery, such as Paulie out in the woods at night or in the close-ups that Mary catches in her parents or in her room-mates, lift the picture but often this is just getting by on the strength of its location shoot in a real-life all girls school. The print is in excellent condition and Peccadillo Pictures have, for the most part, done a fine job in transferring it onto DVD. The picture is slightly soft at times, particularly so when Mary is out gardening with Joe Menzies and sometimes, like in the classrooms, it's merely run of the mill but there are very few actual faults with it. There is a choice between DD5.1 and DD2.0 with the former sounding like a remix of the latter, with the sound spread thinly between channels. The stereo mix is much better, being brighter and more immediate, and while there are few audio effects that are outstanding in either, the stereo track does much more to involve the viewer. Finally, there are English subtitles.

Other than a set of Trailers for other Peccadillo Pictures releases (Tick Tock Lullaby, Poltergay and others), there are no bonus features on this DVD.

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