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Cinema Signal: MOBILE version |

Lila Says

by Chimo

. "Lila Says" (aka, "Lila Dit Ca")

Rarely does a movie so totally take on the shadings and atmosphere of one performance, but this one's immersed in it. It is at once sweet and incredible, mastered by an actress in a role of sexual impetuousity -- if not extravagance - the like of which is singular and haunting. The character of the film derives from its source, a piece of erotic literature that seduced the French reading public who made it a best seller and inspired the Italians who put up the money to make it a movie.

It's all about what 16-year old Lila (19-year old Vahina Giocante) says, what comes out of her sensual mouth -- her brazen openness about matters sexual. She and her dialogue are attention-getters like none others and, once you're into that trap of fascination, she's got you by... well, you know. And that's what she does with Chimo (Mohammed Khouas).

Of all the boys who hang out around the Arab quarter of Marseilles, it's Chimo (Mohammed Khouas) Lila has eyes for, and she soon lets him know it. "Do you want to see my p___y?," she asks the first time they're alone. And then she watches with vixenous eyes to see his expression change as he registers what she has said and weighs it against its meaning. She is taunting and provocative but pays off the promise of the invitation.

Chimo's character in this is critical. He's beautiful looking. For a boy of 19, he might be considered backward in his sexual knowledge and general sophistication, but that may be a natural consequence of his environment and, more particularly, his association with the 3 losers he pals around with. He's a dreamer who likes to write and his performance in class brings his teacher to his home where she informs his mother (Carmen Lebbos) that if he will write a piece of 30 pages she will sponsor him for a scholarship in a Parisian college. That he chooses to reject it, out of fear of going outside his zone of comfort, says a lot about his natural passivity and frame of reference.

But, now, with the effect on him of his new friend, and the cataclysmic emotional effect she has on his orientation, a small revolution of thought is taking place. He puts his experiences with her on paper, and therein lies the manuscript that becomes this story.

Lila, exquisitely sensual in every frame, continues her enticements, which get more and more outrageous, as when she asks if Chimo would film her as she makes love with 20 men. 50 men. 100. She tells increasingly provocative tales, alluding to men, to sexual exploits, to the unique nature of making love on a bale of hay in an American red barn. She is mystifying as she challenges him over and over, in public and in private, searching his eyes for a reaction, the two of them locked into a connection that cries for definition.

When Mouloud (Karim Ben Haddou), the most dangerous of Chimo's circle, fixates on her with his macho insistence, things take a perilous turn.

Giocante, as directed by Ziad Doueiri, is both an angelic and demonic presence. She's viscerally alive and powerfully erotic. Her relentless flirtation with her lover and with cinematographer John Daly's camera makes the kind of deep impression that penetrates the mind with an effect that is as ambiguous as it is enduring. It's not so much that she breaks new ground for candidness about sex, but that she does it with such dazzling devastation and vital force. This is not the province of every actress, however gorgeous.

It's a role and a performance that invests this coming-of-age film with a sultriness and originality all its own. What Lila's character and her cool passion is truly about will be glimpsed in a temporary clearing of the suggestive fog that surrounds her... only at the end.

Take it from me, you will not want to wait for cable or DVD to see it.

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                                      ~~  Jules Brenner  

Opinion Section
Comments from readers:
Very well written
I've seen the movie and agree with the review
Site rating: 9

I had never heard about this film and recently caught it on one of the starz channels. This film was a revelation to me for it's provocative and sensual subject matter. Jules Brenner perfectly communicates my feelings about this movie. I would like only to add that unfortunately this would have been a much different film if made by a American studio . I could not imagine a hollywood studio greenlighting a coming of age project about an arab boy and a blonde polish girl in a run down french neigborhood. All the sexual nuances and sensual nature of this very sweet little film would be gone. Thank god for independent flim!

                                                           ~~ Pat W. 
Very well written
This review will influence me to recommend this reviewer
I've seen the movie and: I agree with the review
Site rating: 10

This movie that I saw for the first time was a true love, for Chimo and Lila. A movie that was excellent in acting and a great inspiration for everyone to see.

                                                           ~~ gary r.

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Vahina Giocante
Lila: a study in erotic freedom

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