HOUSTON–“Knowing Lisa” is instantly forgettable. This is the sort of amateurish, charmless and blatantly self-indulgent effort that can give low-budget labors of love a bad name. Theatrical and vid prospects are nonexistent.
Writer-director Robert Owens Scott, an off-off-Broadway veteran, tries to blend mild comedy and subjective fantasy in his story about a straight-laced high school teacher, Bennett (Bruce Kuhn), who has second thoughts about his seemingly demure fiancee, Lisa (Karin Levitas).
Bennett’s suspicions are aroused when a roommate shows him a nude drawing of his girlfriend on display in a seedy bar. Things only get worse when Bennett learns another roommate, a handsome artist, has been using Lisa as a nude model.
The rest of the movie jerks back and forth, arbitrarily and confusingly, between fantasy and reality. At different points, Bennett imagines Lisa as a tarty disco queen, a free-wheeling biker chick, a leather-clad dominatrix and, worst of all, a closet cigarette smoker.
Imaginings give way to hallucinations, as Bennett sees Lisa in incriminating photos and homevideos. When he tries to show this evidence to anyone else, however, the images suddenly become far more innocent.
Scott tries to play most of this for laughs, but “Knowing Lisa” too often comes across as creepily perverse. Indeed, the upbeat ending isn’t really all that upbeat, since Bennett shows every sign of being a borderline psychotic. Imagine Robert Altman’s “Images” with Susannah York living happily ever after with Rene Auberjonois, and you’ll have some idea what to expect here.
Performances range from barely adequate to embarrassing. Tech credits are poor.