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Lush (1999)

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Ratings: 5.0/10 from 192 users  
Reviews: 13 user | 2 critic

Among the rich in New Orleans, it's the lush life for Lionel Exley, a golf hustler and heavy drinker. Released from an Arkansas jail, "Ex" returns to the Big Easy and starts a friendship ... See full summary »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Lionel 'Ex' Exley
W. Firmin Carter
Rachel Van Dyke
Ashley 'Ash' Van Dyke
James R. Hall Jr. ...
Don Hood ...
Michael P. Cahill ...
Brian (as Michael Cahill)
David Sellars ...
J.C. Sealy ...
Miss Billie
Anthony Marble ...
Layton Martens ...
Veteran Cop
Doug Barden ...


Among the rich in New Orleans, it's the lush life for Lionel Exley, a golf hustler and heavy drinker. Released from an Arkansas jail, "Ex" returns to the Big Easy and starts a friendship with another heavy drinker, attorney Firman Carter. Often waking with no memory of how he got to bed, Ex becomes the object of affection of two wealthy sisters, Rachel and Ashley Van Dyke. Ex also keeps bumping into various local oddballs, pals of the eccentric Carter. When Carter goes missing and the police suspect Ex of foul play, it may be time for him to put down his glass and sort out reality from the haze. Written by <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language and some substance abuse




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User Reviews

A Lamentable Attempt at Filmmaking
11 July 2002 | by (Salem, Oregon) – See all my reviews

Everybody likes a good mystery and a good movie, and together the two make a potent combination; unfortunately, you get neither with `Lush,' written and directed by Mark Gibson, a film that leads you down the path apparently for no other reason than to lead you down the path, and that's considering it from the most positive and objective point of view one could possibly muster. Rarely does a movie leave the viewer with such a pronounced sense of indifference as this one, or with the feeling that the entire experience was, at best, pointless.

When Lionel Exley (Campbell Scott), a promising professional golfer, chooses the comforts of the bottle over his career, he is ousted from the circuit. He goes back home to New Orleans to sort out his life, which he does by looking through the bottom of a whiskey glass. Then he meets Firmin Carter (Jared Harris), a hopeless alcoholic with one up on Lionel, however, inasmuch as he is wealthy, which means that when he hits the floor, at least it's the best that money can buy.

Lionel quickly becomes something of a confidant to Firmin, which leads to a proposal Firmin makes to his new found friend, which could be a lucrative proposition if they can pull it off. Lionel demurs, however, as in the sober light of day it all just seems too ludicrous. But after another night of drinking, it appears that Lionel just may have pulled it off after all. The problem is, he doesn't remember a thing-- and suddenly the police are in his $9.00-per-night flop house room asking questions...

A story told in cryptic terms can be a challenge to an audience, and unraveling a mystery can be an engrossing and ultimately satisfying experience. But only when there's something actually worth unraveling. In this case, it would be more accurate to say that it's the film itself that unravels, except that it is never together enough in the first place to do so. Gibson's presentation is seemingly so convoluted it's as if he did it intentionally, not to effect good drama or mystery, but in hopes of concealing the fact that the story-- such as it is-- is just so obtuse. And the real pity of it is, he wastes the talents of some actors who deserve better. Much better.

As far as performances go, Campbell Scott is solid as always, but his efforts here, while commendable, are ultimately an exercise in futility. Even an Oscar worthy performance couldn't salvage this one. And that is not to say that this is an award winning performance; it isn't-- but it is credible, and Scott does about as well as anyone could with the material he's given to work with. The good news is, there are greener pastures ahead for Scott (as well as all of his costars here), because after this, there is definitely no way to go but up.

Happily, Laura Linney-- proving the old adage that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger-- earned an Oscar nomination for her work in her next project, giving an extraordinary performance in an extraordinary film, `You Can Count On Me,' which was also one of the best films of that year. In this one, Linney-- like Scott-- brings more to her role of Rachel Van Dyke, the affluent southern belle who becomes involved with Lionel, than anyone would have the right to expect, including her director. Considering how poorly written this screenplay is, she deserves a lot of credit for even being able to `find' her character, let alone make her convincing-- which she does. But again, the best performance in the world couldn't save this one.

Also turning in a decent-- albeit wasted-- performance, is Jared Harris as the self-destructive Firmin Carter, a character nearly as pitiful as the film itself. Taken out of context, in fact, Harris actually does some commendable work here. And again, it's a case of the actor doing everything humanly possible with what he was given, which certainly wasn't much.

The supporting cast includes Laurel Holloman (Ash), Nick Offerman (Gerry), James `Kimo' Wills (Pats), James R. Hall Jr. (Buddha), Don Hood (Har) and Sherry Francis (Mrs. Van Dyke). A lamentable attempt at filmmaking, the best thing that can be said about `Lush' is that it makes you appreciate a `good' movie. In defense of Gibson, it should be pointed out that this was his first attempt as a writer/director, which is no easy undertaking even for a seasoned professional. When you see a great-- or even a good movie-- it always looks like it was brought to the screen so effortlessly; and that's what makes a great filmmaker great-- that ability to make it all look so natural, and `easy' to do. It's like the old `I-could-have-written-that' out-of-hand dismissal of a best selling novel; it just looks so easy. Rest assured, it is not; and hopefully Gibson will learn from this experience, pick himself up and move on to bigger, better and more worthwhile projects in the future. I rate this one 2/10.

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