Yesterday afternoon, a few hours before Lifetime aired the world broadcast premiere of "Liz & Dick," their affiliated movie network aired a censored, cable-ready edit of "I Know Who Killed Me" in a stroke of brilliance. The latter film, shot in the early months of 2007, is a seminal film for fans of Lindsay Lohan. It is, for some of us, her greatest role. It is a film that sums up all of the reasons why support and love Lindsay. It is terrible, and at times almost unwatchably bad. But in the five and a half years that came between "I Know Who Killed Me" and "Liz & Dick," we hung on to Lindsay, carefully watched her disappear from the screen but never from our consciousness.
It is a period I call "The Exile," because that is precisely what it was. No one in the top tiers of Hollywood, where Lindsay was perched just a few short years before, will go near Lindsay. No one wants to be associated with her. Disney has never spoken on her behalf, despite the fact that she made them millions upon millions. She remains a fixture inside the entertainment bubble, but the world revolves around her, keeping its distance. For example, two summers ago, I had lunch with another young Hollywood ingenue with ever-changing hair. She had just bought an iPad, but she explained that she was cautious never to be photographed with it, because Lindsay had been showing hers off.
Marilyn Monroe, the prototypical tragic ingenue fell towards doom slowly and cautiously, fulfilling the narrative of her publicly sanctioned predestination. Part of the ongoing appeal of Marilyn is that, because she got high-profile work until the bitter end, we have convinced ourselves that we can watch her films, look into her eyes, and examine her downfall. Lindsay hasn't worked, but that doesn't mean there has been no such engagement. Lindsay remains visible due to photographs and headlines. They get worse and worse. There is an extraordinary Youtube video that you might have seen: It shows the timeline of Lindsay Lohan's face from infancy until this past summer. At a certain point, perhaps a few years ago, she begins aging rapidly in unflattering pictures. And her legal troubles have similarly become worse. First there was the initial DUI and the second DUI on her suspended license. She gets probation and violates it and goes to jail, steals a bracelet, gets sentenced to prison, and violates probation again. It's all too perfect: A downward spiral that has wound itself so low that its details become meaningless. The only thing that matters anymore is its perpetual motion south.
That's why yesterday's broadcasts of "I Know Who Killed Me" and "Liz & Dick" are so important. They are the beginning and end of a chapter in her life: The symbolic bookends of The Exile.
The Exile begins with the infamous letter from James G. Robinson, the CEO of Morgan Creek Productions, to the press. The shoot of "Georgia Rule," Lindsay's debut as an A-List dramatic actress, was so catastrophic that public humiliation become the production's last resort. Unless the film became a blockbuster success, Lindsay would never be insurable again because of this letter.
"Georgia Rule" is bad film, based on an inept script about troubled women written by a man. The tri-generational story focuses on Rachel, an 18-year-old who was sexually abused by her father. The characterization is inconsistent, vague, and unrefined, as is the whole of the film. It tries to walk that dangerous fine line between familial tragedy and hearty comedy, and it fails in a big way. One would think a film about troubled women, played by interesting actors, might be weak but never boring. "Georgia Rule" is so tasteless and ludicrous that it gets exhausting before the first hour is up. The Lohan performance that ends up in the film is eerie, to say the least. She throws herself wholly into the project, reciting her foolish "serious" dialogue sincerely and adding a touch too much gravitas to her jokes, refusing to let them land. By no stretch of the imagination is it her fault that the film doesn't work, but she became the scapegoat because of her behavior. Hollywood slammed the door on her heels on her way out.
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