The Canyons (Paul Schrader, 2013)

Having familiarized myself with Bret Easton Ellis’ frequent employ of vapid, late-era drug and wealth-obsessed Gen X-ers, the unabashed “ugliness” surrounding what The Canyons passes off as substance is far from appealing or meaningful but purposeful nonetheless. Focusing on typical trust-fund case Christian (James Deen), the man in question takes on a B-level Hollywood producing gig if only to (supposedly) pacify his father, all the while maintaining an increasingly toxic open relationship with live-in Tara (Lindsay Lohan). As the interconnection between this couple and another is soon revealed to cook up but a mere semblance of conflict, lewd behavior forever runs rampant as tensions inevitably if drolly arise.

Of course, the script wouldn’t bear Ellis’ brand of youthful reckless abandon if nearly every key player wasn’t making their rounds sleeping with one another. Splice in chain smoking, drug references and alcohol abuse and you’ll have successfully rounded out the bunch as gainful employment remains nowhere in sight. Put plainly, The Canyons makes you feel filthy, drowning you in an ocean of dull, wooden muck as its primary thematic substance seems to only reek of value to the powers that be. From indifferently dabbled-in bisexuality to ritualistically leeching off of various partners for no more than a year at a time – probably because a year constitutes “a while” in their minds – these overprivileged individuals engage in what they do because gifted luxury affords it and nothing more.

For as involving as I found The Canyons to be based on an initial if continuing basal interest, the fact of the matter is it’s just as everyone says: generally insensitive, glum and filled to overflowing with grating, selfish, booze and sex-addled trust fund stereotypes that actively pursue lives devoid of real purpose or substance. Yes, I realize it’s another work of fiction from a niche writer essentially playing with these SoCal caricatures like toys, which I can and did appreciate, however it’s Schrader’s technically flaccid, unimpressive direction that unfortunately accentuates The Canyons‘ all-around dullness despite a mildly serviceable cast of actors.


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