DVD Review - Frank & Lola

The Women Film Critics Circle or WFCC is an association of 64 women film critics and scholars nationally and internationally who are involved in print, radio, online and TV broadcast media. The WFCC has given annual awards since 2004. The WFCC nominated this film for its Hall of Shame Award. It lost to Paul Verhoeven's Elle. Both of which were cited for their portrayals of "women dating their rapists." It was also nominated for the Worst Male Images in a Movie Award. Now, its nominations in these categories don't condemn the movie outright. It does however warrant a conversation.

Michael Shannon (Revolutionary Road and Nocturnal Animals) stars as Frank Riley, a very excellent chef at a very nice restaurant in Las Vegas. Imogen Poots (Fright Night and Green Room) co-stars as Lola, a woman whom not much is told. Yet, she's Frank's girlfriend and he seems to love her greatly. Michael Nyqvist (Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol and John Wick) also co-stars as Alan, a businessman who lives in Paris.

This might be a spoiler, but Frank learns that Alan raped Lola and got her pregnant some time before she met Frank. Lola tells Frank that she didn't leave Alan right away. She even hooks up with him again while she and Frank were together. As I pointed out during my review of Elle, the idea of a woman staying with her rapist or even falling in love with her rapist is an idea that isn't new. It's not representative in the slightest to the overwhelming majority of rape cases, unless there are extenuating circumstances, which isn't the case here or in Elle.

Even if there aren't extenuating circumstances like the woman being trapped and not just physically, or even her rapist being her husband, even if there aren't extenuating circumstances, a story like this still could be told. Elle was on the right track with having the story told from the woman's point-of-view. This film is not told from Lola's point-of-view despite her name being in the title.

Instead, writer-director Matthew Ross chooses to make this movie all about Frank and his feelings and his experiences, his jealousy and his need for revenge against the rapist. It's not that Frank's perspective isn't valid. It's simply that Frank's perspective is the dominant perspective here and practically the only one.

We're never allowed inside the head of Lola, which is often the problem. We're often not allowed in the head of the woman. Understanding is foregone. Insight is foregone. It becomes all about violence and aggression.

Not Rated but contains language and sexual situations.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 28 mins.


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