Lay with everyone and call it a movie

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Lay with everyone and call it a movie

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The bonobo, also known as the pygmy chimpanzee, is a fascinating creature. With 95 percent of their DNA the same as humans, bonobos have been observed to engage in a wide range of human-like social interactions, demonstrating kindness, patience, generosity and compassion. The method for carrying out these interactions is sex. To bonobos, sex is a greeting, sex is an apology, sex is the default method of relating to others.
The bonobo is endangered, but thanks to director Clement Virgo you’ll get a chance to see two of the rare creatures in their natural habitat, which in this case means urban dance clubs and studio apartments. They may look like humans and act like humans, but when the nigh-endless humpfest begins, you’ll realize their true nature.
Monkey No. 1, who also serves as the narrator, is Leila (Lauren Lee Smith). At a party, she meets David (Eric Balfour), Monkey No. 2. They watch each other having sex with strangers, then decide, after a little monkey mating dance that takes them to a local children’s playground, that they’re perfect for each other, for no other discernable reason than that their sex organs fit together nicely, and David is ripped. And that’s what most of the rest of the movie is about.
Of course, there are some parts of “Lie with Me,” the film based on the novella by Tamara Berger, that don’t have sex in them. Leila’s parents are getting divorced, her friend is getting married and David has to deal with a family tragedy. And Leila starts to worry that she might be falling in love with David. “How do you have sex with someone you’re in love with?” she asks the audience frantically.
But this might as well be a nature documentary or even a porno flick. The story drags on agonizingly slowly, partly because it can’t decide on a clear message. Is commitment good or bad, hard or easy? Is a relationship all about sex, or not? The film can’t seem to decide, and eventually it runs out of steam before making a point at all.
Scenes that should take 10 or 15 seconds to get their point across inexplicably take minutes and minutes. This might be bearable if Smith and Balfour were captivating performers. Unfortunately, though earnest, they’re both completely ineffectual. Smith’s wispy voiceover fails to anchor the story as it should, and Balfour fails miserably at the few elementary emotions he’s called upon to express. Both end up strictly two-dimensional.
There’s no question that the framing of each scene is artful and provocative, often even beautiful. But the material is too thin to hold audience attention. Perhaps it’s the length of Berger’s original novella, which clocks in at a thin 122 pages, that led the movie to overstretch itself.
Its name may be a failed attempt at double-entendre, but “Lie with Me” is still one of the most direct and in many ways honest confrontations of the emotional lives of those that rely on casual sex for fulfillment. But with dreadfully solemn acting, paper-thin plotting and fatal thematic indecisiveness, there isn’t enough here to keep an audience attentive or even awake for 92 minutes. And it’s a unique accomplishment to make a film that has this much sex in it boring.


Lie with Me
Romance / English
92 min.
Opens Thursday


by Ben Applegate
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