Lost and Delirious

Lost and Delirious represents a return to when films could tell a story on a purely emotional level

One type of film that has been a favorite for both Hollywood and the independent moviemakers is the coming of age story. In recent years the tenderness and sensitivity shown in films like ‘The Summer of 42’ or ‘Last Summer’ have degraded into sexual romps of teenage lust.

Lost and Delirious represents a return to when films could tell a story on a purely emotional level. Lost and Delirious is told through the eyes of young Mary (Mischa Barton), better known as Mouse, a very apt description. She has been skipped a few grades and is therefore younger than her classmates and particularly her two new roommates, Paulie (Piper Perabo) and Victoria (Jessica Pare). Mary is at first lost after being dumped off at the boarding school by her father. Her mother had died a few years before and the new wife never really connected with Mary. Her first view of her roommates is a bit of a shock for little Mary. Paulie is the school’s resident rebel. Mary’s first sight of her is smoking in the lounge. Paulie takes Mary to an afternoon tea, spikes the punch and replaces the string quartet with some loud rock music. Victoria is the disenfranchised rich girl. She needs to find herself but she is afraid of alienating her parents. In one extremely emotional scene the girls are in their room. Paulie has hope of finding her ‘blood mother’ the girl that gave her up for adoption. She reads a letter written if she ever gets her mother’s address. This prompts Victoria to compose a letter to her mother, relating the deep feelings she has, both love and hate. Then it is Mary’s turn. She speaks in letter format to her dead mother expressing such abject loss that one in the audience cannot help but to be moved.

I have saved the most notable aspect of Lost and Delirious until now since it seems to have become the focus of every other review of this film. Mary discovers that Paulie and Victoria are in the midst of an adolescent lesbian affair. True, there is a few scenes that involve nudity and some passionate kissing but there is no shock value here. The scenes are true to the deep emotional connection needed by any teenager as they grow to adulthood and try to find themselves. Lost and Delirious comes off not as sensationalistic but tender and endearing. The dialogue her is perfectly crafted and will draw you into this world. This presentation demonstrates the true emotional impact a film can provide.

Lost and Delirious draws on the talent of three young women that are destined to become the next generation of movie greats. In this respect Lost and Delirious reminded me of Mystic Pizza, a staging ground for young talent on the way up. Barton may be young but she has some excellent dramas behind her. Check out the film ‘Pups’ to see how well a 13-year-old girl can command the screen. Here, she wears the role of Mouse as easily as a pair of beloved jeans. Her face is a mirror for the emotions she is presenting. Her eyes capture the audience with their depth and innocence. When she first sees Paulie and Tory kissing she thinks they are ‘practicing of boys’ but soon realizes that her upbringing in a small town untouched by time did not prepare her for the world. Perabo is a long way from her bewildered girl in ‘Coyote Ugly’. She has paid dues with films like ‘Rocky and Bullwinkle’ and demonstrates in this film there is more to her than Hollywood can see right now. Here she is the class rebel, hiding her insecurity with loud and aggressive displays. In one scene she is shown fencing in a style more associated with a male than a young woman. She is aggressive, brash and always on the offense. Lost and Delirious contrasts this not only with her love for Tory but also how she identifies with and injured eagle that she finds in the woods. Jessica Pere as Tory treads the middle ground between the two girls. Tory comes across as confused but not as willing as Mary in showing it. She loves Paulie but is afraid to come out in the open for fear of rejection by her parents. The three actresses show a friendship as it grows, three young women maturing. These three are actors to watch in the coming years.

Serge Bureau took the helm by directing Lost and Delirious. His resume consists mostly of French Canadian films but with Lost he breaks into American independent films in a stunning manner. His style of direction is subtle, never overbearing. He glides the audience into the changing life of Mouse. We view things through her eyes, a young girl in a new place experiencing situations she never could imagine. The setting of Lost and Delirious is a real boarding school, Bishop's University in Lennoxville, Quebec. With its vaulted ceilings and brick face walls its traditional warmth lends a stack contrast to the new feelings and life choices the girls are going through. The cinematography is simply put, incredible. Bureau uses the camera with far better than average talent. He uses the beauty of the place to invoke the feelings within the characters. One problem with a ‘sensitive’ film like Lost and Delirious is to go too slow with the pacing. Here, Bureau keeps the story moving flowing from scene to scene. The dialogue never gets preachy but does tend to a type of poetic usage that may be a bit beyond the years of the characters. The one word that sums up the production of this film is ‘crafted’. While many movies appear slapped together as fast as possible just to be released and get money into the coffers of the studios, Lost and Delirious is obviously done as a work of love by cast and crew.

The Lost and Delirious DVD was produced by one of the smaller distributors, Studio Home Entertainment. While short on the extras the production values are super. Lost and Delirious is one film I would have enjoyed a commentary, it is a loss not having it. The audio is one of the most well balanced 5.1 Dolby tracks I have heard. The sound field is encompassing. It enfolds the audience. In a film like Lost and Delirious the subwoofer is often under used. Here it punctuates the sound track. The rear speakers bolster the soundtrack while providing a great ambience. The video is a non-anamorphic 1.85:1 and is crisp and clear. It is unrated which just means they did not submit this film to the MPAA for arbitrary cuts. While many may find offense with some of the topics Lost and Delirious is well worth owning.

Review by Doug MacLean of hometheaterinfo.com

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