MOVIE REVIEW – The abduction of a child sets off a lengthy redemption attempt in this literally and figuratively “down-to-earth” thriller. The title character and protagonist, Lou, is an elderly lady who is much more than she appears, though, with her scowl and self-possessed manner, the first impression is not a sponge. Although an elderly lady is rarely the protagonist of this genre, Lou is a real, gritty thriller. Too bad it’s not the better kind…
While there’s not much good to say about Netflix’s thriller Lou, one thing is for sure: filming it must have been a real man-testing experience. The near-constant rain, the soaking in the mud and the frequent close-quarters fights made the actors seem to have gotten their money’s worth.
An old amazon
As a result, my admiration for the lead actress Allison Janney, already high, skyrocketed. The eccentric, sullen, self-contained title character, a woman of indeterminate years, who is initially seen with a shovel, a gun or a deer carcass, is only loyal to her cute dog Jax, but she is not kind to him in every scene either.
What is admirable, then, is the performance of Allison Janney. She is not in the least disturbed by the working conditions or the ridiculously over-the-top script by Maggie Cohn and Jack Stanley, either in her acting or in her physical ordeal. His grim figure and steely yet intelligent gaze give him a woundedness that keeps the viewer’s attention even when we have long known who he really is and why he is fighting so desperately for two characters beyond mere survival: a kidnapped girl and her mother.
And all he wanted was to live a quiet and lonely life
When a tangled web of family grief and political misdeeds forces Lou to leave his Pacific Northwest cabin to help the aforementioned young mother (Jurnee Smollett) recover her kidnapped teenage daughter, Lou barely hesitates. Abandoning her earlier tragic plans, she sets off through the storm-ravaged forest in pursuit of the kidnapper, partnering with the desperate mother. The journey becomes fraught with peril, flashbacks, regrets, and secrets as the shroud of Lou’s past gradually falls.
Although the story has its surprises and the actors are not bad, director Anna Foerster – who, alongside her, rather poor Underworld: Blood Wars (2017), has worked mainly in television – pays more attention to the film’s impressive fight choreography from Lou’s second half onwards than to a decent exploration of the details of the central mystery.
Who is Lou? What is Lou? But, most importantly, what was this Lou ultimately about? I have no idea. What I am sure of is that all we get is an occasionally entertaining, really well-crafted action movie with some really well-developed action sequences, but mostly uninteresting, a joke of a story, 107 minutes of survival action, unworthy of both Janney’s talent and our attention.
The film was originally made at Paramount with JJ Abrams as producer, but seeing the end result, why this script got so much attention is perhaps the film’s biggest mystery. Originally described by the marketing as Thelma and Louise meets Taken, Lou is more like One Bed with the Enemy meets Rambo meets Taken, but unfortunately, it’s not nearly as entertaining a cocktail as it sounds.
For all its mystery, Maggie Cohn and Jack Stanley’s screenplay remains simple and implausible. It’s a shame, because the character of the sixty-something action heroine would have been an interesting touch in the end, and the performance of the main character Allison Janney is on the money, and the action scenes weren’t bad either. Everything else, however, was disappointing.