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New Release Review [Digital] - LYNN + LUCY

lynn + lucy review
Two lifelong friends fall out in the aftermath of a tragedy.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Fyzal Boulifa

Starring: Roxanne Scrimshaw, Nichola Burley, Samson Cox-Vinell, Tia Nelson, Jennifer Lee-Moon

lynn + lucy poster


Motherhood can have a sinister effect on women. A very small minority refuse to take to it, failing to bond with a child that serves as a spanner in the works of their previously independent lives. A troublingly larger number adopt an ultra-conservative mindset, viewing the world in terms of potential threats to their children, something right-wing politicians and tabloids prey on when courting votes and subscriptions.


lynn + lucy review

In his feature debut Lynn + Lucy, writer/director Fyzal Boulifa, much lauded for his short films, presents us with two young mothers who represent both of the above camps. Fun-loving Lucy (Nichola Burley) has never taken life all that seriously, but she's recently entered motherhood, and it's a role she's struggling to adapt to. There to help her along the way is her lifelong friend Lynn (a strikingly impressive Roxanne Scrimshaw in her first ever role), who gave birth to her own child at 16 and has taken to the life of a suburban housewife and mother like a duck to water ever since. Despite Lucy's confessions that she may not ever be able to love her baby, Lynn passes it off as something Lucy will get over once she grows up.

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Lynn gets a wake up call when she arrives home on the street she shares with Lucy to find the latter being taken away in an ambulance. Lucy's child has passed away, and the cause of the infant's death is unknown. Initially, Lynn suspects Lucy's feckless boyfriend Clark (Samson Cox-Vinell) of either directly or indirectly killing the child, and she steadfastly defends her friend in the face of growing hostility from the local community. But then a revelation is made that changes Lynn's mind, causing her to turn her back on Lucy and join the ranks of the baying mob.


lynn + lucy review

Think 12 Angry Men in reverse and you'll have an idea of how Boulifa's film plays out. Much time is taken to establish early on that Lynn is what most of us would consider a "decent" person. She's clearly a good mother and a loyal friend, someone who wants the best for those she cares for. But she's also very much alone. Her ex-military husband uses the excuse of an injury he suffered in training to laze about the house while Lynn keeps things running, and her daughter ignores her orders. Her co-workers at the salon where she's employed to make tea and sweep up hair are overheard laughing about how they nicknamed Lynn "The Pig" back in their schooldays.

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But there are signs that Lynn is an easy target for a mob mentality. Her boss (Jennifer Lee-Moon, adding some necessary light relief as a beauty obsessed social climber) reminds her friends that Lynn made her school-life hell by taunting her with anti-Asian racism. When a suggestion is made that Lynn and Lucy are lesbian lovers, she calls such an idea "sick". Lynn has her own idea of how a woman and a mother should behave, and with much prodding from the local curtain twitching busybodies she comes to view Lucy as a threat to her narrow-minded ideals. When Lynn gets a conservative makeover - trading her tracksuits for a Hillary-esque pantsuit - and delivers an address to an angry gathering of neighbours about how best to rid their area of Lucy's perceived threat, it feels like we're watching the origin story of a comic book villain, but laid out in convincingly gritty, realistic detail. If Joker traded in the clich├ęs of what makes certain alienated men explode in rage and violence, Lynn + Lucy explores the less examined social factors that can turn women into reactionary bigots.


lynn + lucy review

Boulifa keeps us guessing as to whether Lynn is correct in placing guilt at the feet of Lucy, and this ambiguity forces us to confront our own views of how a mother should behave. Depending on your ideology, you'll either fully support Lynn's animosity towards her former friend (in a quietly crushing moment we watch as Lynn has a dual-hearts tattoo she shares with Lucy lasered off her shoulder) or your sympathy will lie with Lucy, who has been condemned by her peers with no evidence beyond their disapproval of her lifestyle. It's the classic Twilight Zone episode 'The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street' (in which residents of a suburban street turn against the neighbours they suspect of being literal aliens) rendered horrifyingly real in the identifiable environs of a typical British working class cul-de-sac. In Lynn + Lucy, the industrial armchair outrage of the online mob is given tangible and terrifying form.

Lynn + Lucy is on UK Digital from July 2nd.




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