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Thymiane is a beautiful young girl who is not having a storybook life. Her governess, Elizabeth, is thrown out of her home when she is pregnant, only to be later found drown. That same day, her father already has a new governess named Meta. Meinert, downstairs druggist, takes advance of her and gets Thymiane pregnant. When she refuses to marry, her baby is taken from her and she is put into a strict girls reform school. When Count Osdorff is unable to get the family to take her back, he waits for her to escape. She escapes with a friend and the friend goes with the Count while she goes to see her baby. Thymiane finds that her baby is dead, and the Count has put both girls up at a brothel. When her father dies, Thymiane marries the Count and becomes a Countess, but her past and her hatred of Meta will come back to her. Written by
Tony Fontana <email@example.com>
Liza Minelli's character in "Cabaret" (1972) looks so much like Louise Brooks that you have to wonder if Minelli didn't model her look after the famous silent film star.
"Diary of Lost Girl" puts the drama in melodrama. Brooks stars as a young innocent thing who's life goes a bad direction when she's introduced to every vice the world has to offer. Name a vice and it's in here: sex, booze, dance, gambling. It's like a public service message as broadcast by the Christian Coalition. It's a cautionary tale about the evils awaiting innocent souls, and it's pretty hard to take by the time the film has neared the two-hour mark. However, it's redeemed by a finale in which Brooks decides to devote her energies to helping other "lost" girls by truly understanding their plight, rather than cow them with moral fire and brimstone.
Brooks is beautiful, but she's not much of an actress, at least not as evidenced by this film. Her Thymian (what a name!) is a blank slate, and Brooks's reaction shots more often than not catch her staring at the camera with little or no expression on her face. Thymian is a girl who just lets things happen to her, so it's hard to muster up the requisite sympathy to really care about her plight. What's more interesting is the peripheral action always going on around her. The middle section of the film, which takes place in a home for wayward girls, captures some of the most entertainingly bizarre moments I've seen in a movie for a long time. The home is run by a butch dominatrix who leers lecherously at the girls while they eat soup and works herself into what appears to be a sexual frenzy when she forces them to perform nightly calisthenics (which consist of the girls flopping over at the waist and then standing up again quickly, over and over, like fish gasping for oxygen). There's also a looming tall bald man who looks like he could have auditioned for the role of Lurch, who we see playing the piano one minute and gripping young girls by the backs of their necks the next. The best scene in the film comes when the girls turn on these two and begin pounding on them to the beat of a drum, making one wonder why the girls didn't do this much sooner, since there are about twenty of them and only two of the caretakers.
People not familiar with pre-Code cinema (and European pre-Code cinema to boot) may be surprised at the adult subject matter in this film: nudie postcards, lesbian overtones, pre-marital sex, even a shot of a pregnant woman (gasp!). It's always a reminder of just how straight-laced movies became in the years shortly following the advent of sound.
"Diary of a Lost Girl" is longer than it needs to be and doesn't exactly take the subtlest approach in its storytelling, but then what silent film ever did? If you like silent films you will probably at least enjoy this one. If nothing else, it provides a nice introduction to Louise Brooks and the on-screen charisma that made her a star.
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