Lohan's 'Liz and Dick' falls flat

Liz & Dick, Lindsanity’s (aka Lindsay Lohan) latest attempt at relevance, was an interesting mini-biopic about the love affair between the glamorous Elizabeth Taylor and her co-star/husband Richard Burton. A Lifetime original movie, I was initially surprised at how well-made Liz & Dick was. Compared to the Will and Kate special I reviewed two years ago, Liz & Dick is Oscar-worthy material.

Beginning on the set of 1963’s Cleopatra, where the two stars fell in love, the film successfully chronicles the story of the movie stars, from steamy start to Burton’s death in Switzerland. Grant Bowler plays the dashing Richard Burton, who claimed he was smitten with the violet-eyed Taylor after he saw her at a Hollywood party before they ever even worked on Cleopatra together. Bowler’s performance was fantastic. He carries the film playing the sexy Brit who drove Elizabeth mad with passion and love but also jealousy and rage. From his masculine voice to his passionate looks at Lohan’s Elizabeth, you almost feel as if you are watching the real Burton act out a piece chronicling his own life.

The same, however, cannot be said of Lohan. Although I thought they did a terrific job making her look like Elizabeth Taylor, she sounded far too much like herself and didn’t match her costar’s natural ease of performance. Her memorable shout of “I’m so bored” while on hiatus post-Cleopatra sounded more like a childish Lohan temper tantrum rather than an outburst worthy of the great Elizabeth Taylor. She slips in and out of a shaky accent that also made it hard for the audience to see her as anything more than a cheap imitation of the real Elizabeth. Her performance reminded me of a young girl trying desperately to grow up and impress the world by naively impersonating her role model.

Further detracting from the authenticity of her portrayal is her appearance. Lohan allegedly refused to gain weight to play the curvy Taylor, nor did she don any pads to add weight to her middle or her butt. During the scenes when the tabloids were making fun of Taylor’s weight, Lohan looks more waifish than voluptuous, and considering the amount of alcohol she and Burton drank on a daily basis, it is impossible that her body would have been completely unaffected by her lifestyle.
The drinking was one of the more darkly humorous parts of the movie with zingers like, “It’s 8 a.m., and they’re already drinking — let’s do the take while they’re still standing,” from one of their directors; or “Two Bloody Marys, please. Oh, hello, Richard, I just ordered breakfast,” from Taylor.
They could have picked a better title, as nowhere in the movie is Richard Burton referred to as Dick, and Elizabeth Taylor is called Liz only a few times. Still, I think this movie is interesting enough to take the time to watch, especially for fans of the classic pair — but lowering your expectations will help.

Published December 6, 2012

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