The Movie Waffler New to VOD - BAD BEHAVIOUR | The Movie Waffler


troubled former child star joins a spiritual retreat.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Alice Englert

Starring: Jennifer Connelly, Alice Englert, Ben Whishaw, Dasha Nekrasova, Karan Gill, Marlon Williams

Bad Behaviour poster

Australian actress Alice Englert makes an uncomfortable transition to writing and directing with her feature debut Bad Behaviour. It's a movie that hints at the sort of filmmaker Englert wishes to become - one more influenced by Hal Ashby than her own mother, Jane Campion, who pops up in a cameo here - but it's so lacking in the most basic elements of character shading that you might wonder if it's the final movie in a trilogy rather than a standalone feature.

Jennifer Connelly gets a rare and welcome lead role as Lucy, a former child star who is now...well, that's the thing. I don't what she is now, and neither does Lucy. That's kind of the point, that Lucy has become lost in life, but a directionless character needs a steady film to anchor them, and Bad Behaviour is narratively rudderless, drifting from one kooky idea to the next. You wonder if Englert isn't working with a script but rather from a wall of post-it notes.

Bad Behaviour review

Lucy decides to check into a retreat run by spiritual guru Elon Bello (Ben Whishaw). Elon's credo is as half-baked as the rest of the film, based around vague pronouncements like "Never give in to hope" and "don't think, be." I've seen action heroes played by Steven Seagal with more cogent philosophies.

It's never entirely clear if Lucy is onboard with Elon's ways. At times she takes it as seriously as Jack Nicholson takes incarceration in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, yet she takes umbrage when others fail to commit to the programme in the way she sees fit. This puts her on a collision course with Beverly (Dasha Nekrasova), a narcissistic model who claims to harbour suicidal feelings.

Bad Behaviour review

Is the film mocking the self-help industry? I think so, but then maybe it's just because it presents itself as such an easy target that Englert can't resist taking a few cheap shots. Whishaw does his best to imbue his character with some sort of depth, but it's never clear whether he's suffering a crisis of faith or is becoming guilt-ridden at taking money from his troubled clients.

A sub-plot takes us to New Zealand where Lucy's daughter, Dylan (Englert), is working as a stunt performer on a production that seems to be based on the recent Planet of the Apes series. Often clad in motion capture outfits, Dylan is having a vague crisis of her own and is romantically entangled with an older man (Marlon Williams). There's a fascinating movie to be made about the temporary relationships that form between below the line folks working on lengthy movie shoots, but this isn't it.

Bad Behaviour review

The final act sees Lucy and Dylan reunited, but the film doesn't know what to do with this mother/daughter dynamic. There's a lot of sloppy backstory revealed through clunky dialogue, but it's difficult to buy into the pair having a relationship that existed before the cameras began to roll.

There are a few clever comic touches that suggest Englert has a devillish sense of humour. It's a shame then that she didn't go for all-out comedy with her debut, as whenever Bad Behaviour decides to take itself seriously it's thoroughly unconvincing.

Bad Behaviour is on UK/ROI VOD now.

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