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Review: Lizziehead. Chaos and humour make a great mix… possibly…

  • Release year: 2023
  • Director: M. W. Daniels.
  • Producers: M. W. Daniels.
  • Screenplay by: M. W. Daniels.
  • Cinematographer: Nicolai Kornum.
  • Music by: M. W. Daniels.

Synopsis: a girl in search of her father tries to find herself while navigating her relationships with those closest to her.

Shotgun Commentary: very random chain of events leading up to a satisfying, albeit confusing ending.

Ben and Lizzie kissing. Source: Lizziehead (M. W. Daniels, 2023).
Credit: Nicolai Kornum Photography.

Review

Lizziehead is a short film that tells the story of a young woman, Lizzie (Charlotte Gould), who is trying to find herself through others, but whose attempts always lead to disappointment. The narrative explores the themes of identity, love and sexuality.

A cocktail of opposites

The protagonist sees herself as a liberated woman who shapes her sentimental relationships as she wants and is unafraid of sexual exploration. This part of her personality clashes against her sexual prejudices, expressed through her disgust at the idea of her parents engaging in intimate relations.

Much like in this last example, everything about Lizzie is contradictory. She is proud of her job, but she hides it from her boyfriend Ben (Tom Coulson). She acts like she loves being independent, yet she’s always going after her partner, to whom she professes her love merely two days after meeting for the first time. Overall, she lives in a constant, emotional push-and-pull with everyone in her life, treating them like rubbish and acting like nothing happened when it suits her.

Wait, when?

While the pace of the story is fast, as expected from a short film with a lot to say, the time management is a tad confusing. It is a great choice to focus merely on the purely relevant parts, as it is the best way to keep the spectators engaged and to make sure that you are not overstaying your welcome.

Lizzie and Daisy. Source: Lizziehead (M. W. Daniels, 2023).
Credit: Nicolai Kornum Photography.

Nevertheless, the anarchic use of time dotes the story of a surrealism that is hard to follow and at risk of losing the audience’s attention. One day becomes two when “this afternoon” becomes the next day with no explanation whatsoever, or two days are referred to as “a few” for no apparent reason. This messy treatment of time, whether accidentally or on purpose, actually works in favour of the narrative, channelling those moments in life where one is so lost that all sense of time is forgotten.

Much ado about nothing

Lizziehead has one big unknown: what is her job. Likewise, it has one big dramatic moment, the “tea” of the plot, one might say. Sadly, despite their juicy nature, both of them could have been better exploited. Lizzie’s profession is incredibly mysterious at first. One can think she doesn’t actually have a job, or maybe she’s a hitman, or a prostitute… The possibilities are endless, and her secrecy only feeds the viewer’s curiosity and imagination further with every passing minute.

Regrettably, although the moment when the answer is exposed makes sense timewise when one considers the events before and after, it feels rushed and sloppy. Suddenly, it is there. There is no shocking image or tension-packed reveal moment, making the build-up better than the climax.

Lizzie at her mum’s. Source: Lizziehead (M. W. Daniels, 2023).
Credit: Nicolai Kornum Photography.

The same happens when the big complication shows up. It feels like it will lead to a hilarious or super dramatic argument between the three characters but, much like with the mystery of Lizzie’s father, you get nothing, it just happens. Lizziehead desperately tries to avoid any shocking climax, missing out on one of the greatest opportunities for a comedy to shine.

Shallow waters

Additionally, a few sequences provoke very contradictory feelings. The mother’s birthday situation is one of them. What transpires is hilarious, but everything before and after is abrupt, forced and somewhat skimmed through. It is the visual representation of a reader trying to get to the bit that is funny without reading anything before or after. The dialogues barely make sense and the reactions are illogical, even within the context of comedic exaggeration.

The characters are quite simple, as one might expect from a piece of visual content with limited duration. Lizzie, as a main character, is the person with the most personality and depth. At times, she gives off Fleabag (2016-2019) vibes, but she easily crosses the line between funny-rude to rude and borderline annoying. She has a lot of potential to be fun, but clichés like women behaving terrible to everyone around them because they haven’t got properly laid are the type of overused stereotype that causes weariness and confusion instead of laughs. What could be humorous becomes unlikeable and tiresome.

Lizzie. Source: Lizziehead (M. W. Daniels, 2023). Credit: Nicolai Kornum Photography.

As for the rest of the characters, they are understandably shallow as the film follows a philosophy of no pointless content. The lack of information about them gives way to some great plot twists that benefit the narrative greatly. However, their dialogues and actions are, in many instances, hard to understand. The interactions between them don’t sound natural, and their expressions often give away the fictional nature of the events.

All in all, Lizzihead explores, in a very unique fashion, the self-discovery journey of a woman who has a hard time finding her place in the world. The technical aspects of the film give away its low budget and the cohesion is sometimes lacking, but that doesn’t stop this film from being quite fun and engaging.

Advice to take from this movie:

  • Knowing your father won’t magically make you know yourself.
  • Treating people horribly will make them go away.
  • You never know where people draw the line between cool and disgusting in terms of sex.
Lizzie. Source: Lizziehead (M. W. Daniels, 2023). Credit: Nicolai Kornum Photography.

What’s your take? Have you watched Lizziehead? What do you think of it? Don’t hesitate to let me know your thoughts in the comments section below, or leave a message in my contact page! For more reviews and cinema-related articles, check out the rest of my blog! 😀

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