Director: Woody Harrelson
Starring: Woody Harrelson, Owen Wilson, Willie Nelson
Harrelson was inspired to write Lost in London by one of the worst nights of his life, which happened in 2002. As he said in the Q & A session immediately following the film, “time plus tragedy equals comedy”, and that’s how the script for Lost in London was conceived. Filmed all in one take, the night begins at a club in London, where Harrelson finds that a tryst he had with three women has been printed on the front page of the paper. Although he desperately tries to keep his wife from seeing the evidence of his infidelity, his efforts are wasted, and his wife takes the kids and leaves him at the venue. After realizing that she needs a few hours alone, Harrelson agrees to get drinks at an exclusive club with the prince of – some country or another – and his wild night begins. Along the way, Harrelson is hit on by various women, and even runs into his good friend Owen Wilson. Really, what he wants most is to get home to his wife and kids (who are supposed to go to meet Harry Potter in the morning!).
There were a lot of different expectations for Lost In London – nobody knew what to expect from this. Honestly, it could have been a lot worse. The sound is quite impressive. The recorded audio comes through very cleanly, and the music overlay is clear but not overpowering. For the most part, the performances are decent, with Owen Wilson standing out above the rest. He’s only playing out his typical bit, but it’s exactly what the movie needs. He and Harrelson have a great chemistry together. As for Harrelson himself, there are a few points at the beginning in which his emotions don’t feel genuine. Otherwise, he gives a good performance.
Unfortunately, we can’t really see the performances that these actors put so much effort into. The movie looks as though the aspect of lighting never crossed anyone’s mind. For more than half of the movie, the audience looks at dark shapes, trying to distinguish the characters from one another. Even when the characters are identifiable, it’s nearly impossible to get a clear picture of the actors’ expressions. Good lighting generally isn’t something that you can do a quick setup of, but it’s as though Harrelson’s crew don’t even try. Still, I can’t imagine that they didn’t consider this; it’s generally pitch-black at 2AM in London. The only other technical complaint is the entirely handheld camera, which is wobbly to a distracting degree at times.
Even if all of the technical details were properly sorted out, Harrelson’s story and writing is mediocre at best. The movie has a very rough start, and as it’s trying to find its groove, Harrelson resorts to a lot of nasty racial humor in his attempt to make Lost in London a comedy. The fact is that we’re past such low-brow humor. Also, the storyline just isn’t that interesting and it feels as though the movie is trying to rely on the novelty of live-streaming the film and a stream of jokes to keep things going. Take away the jokes and the live-stream aspect, and you have a slightly boring story that isn’t executed too well.
Harrelson has made it clear that his intention with this project was to merge the best of both theater and film. Perhaps these two mediums are separate for good reason. Although I completely praise Harrelson for setting out on this ambitious feat – to shoot a movie and simultaneously stream it into theaters, the results of his efforts make it clear that this practice should not become a common one.