Lohan acts well but can't quite capture Taylor in 'Liz & Dick'
By Rich Heldenfels
Published: Friday, Nov. 23, 2012, 8:57 p.m.
When Lindsay Lohan was in the middle of one of her tabloid dramas — which still seem unending — it was all too easy to forget that the person who had all those troubles was a pretty good actress, someone who brought on-camera skills to productions like “Mean Girls” and “Georgia Rules.” And she has fine moments in her newest film, “Liz & Dick.”
Unfortunately, the movie is only intermittently satisfying. And the script and Lohan's performance capture just a part of Taylor, the little-girl vulnerability, while failing to get at her bawdiness or sexual appetite. (The love scenes in the film are quite chaste, even by TV standards).
Premiering Sunday on Lifetime, “Liz & Dick” charts the lives of Taylor and Richard Burton (“True Blood's” Grant Bowler) from the beginning of their fiery romance through its collapse, and then the connection they maintained until Burton's death in 1984. (Taylor died in 2011.)
It is a story of two people who seemed ill-matched — she a child of the movies, he a once-poor Welshman acclaimed for stage work including Shakespeare — but who not long after meeting on the set of “Cleopatra” became besotted with each other, torpedoing their marriages to others, and embarking on adventures that were costly, financially and emotionally.
Written by Christopher Monger (“Temple Grandin”), “Liz & Dick” puts the two stars together in a sort of post-mortem, with the talk serving as a commentary on the chronological presentation of their lives and some of its most famous vignettes — “Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf” onscreen, for example, and conflicts and excess off, and the need to pay for all that excess leading to well-paid, but artistically, poor roles.
Taylor's mantra is “I want more” — more of Burton, more diamonds — but Burton is shown as wanting a lot of what Taylor has: not only real stardom, but an Academy Award to go with her two. (Burton was nominated seven times for Oscars, winning none. Taylor was two-for-five in addition to winning the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award.) Burton was a formidable drinker, and both are shown as sharp-tongued with each other.
Bowler is good enough, and he and Lohan prove a decent match in the later parts of the movie, when it is not so much about them playing two familiar faces as it is about two people with plenty of pain under their glamorous surfaces. But there are still those moments when Lohan has to be Taylor — much the way Michelle Williams embodies Marilyn Monroe in “My Week With Marilyn” — and cannot quite pull it off.
Part of that may be the difference in voice, Lohan's raspy and a bit girlish when Taylor sounded clear and grown up, or just the burden of all the Taylor-making cosmetics and eyelashes Lohan has to wear even in scenes that are supposed to be informal. (Her look is especially bad in scenes of an aging Taylor dealing with Burton's death.) Part, too, is there's no amour fou in the Lohan-Bowler connection, no sense of a grand passion that is as undeniable as it is destructive. “Liz & Dick” is not so much a portrait of the couple as a study of them.
Rich Heldenfels is a staff writer for the Akron Beacon Journal.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Kovacevic: Bylsma’s moves — yes, moves — pay off
- 4 dead in Armstrong County crash
- Former Pitt captain Cavanaugh blazes trail as entrepreneur
- Penguins rally to escape with a victory in Game 1 against Columbus
- Physical Columbus team is a hit in playoff opener against Penguins
- Veteran North Huntingdon police officer fired
- Pirates notebook: Walker’s razor a right-handed swing solution
- Play of the game: Sutter’s goal completes rally
- Retired postal worker picks $1M winner
- Police see no sign Franklin Regional stabbing suspect was bullied
- New Kensington-Arnold lays groundwork for consolidation