A brief encounter sets an emotionally isolated girl’s life in motion in “Lilly,” firstfeature of Canadian director David Marcoux. Blending oddball melodrama, soap-operatic angst and earnest introspection on a threadbare $ 18, 000 budget, Marcoux serves up a wealth of catchy ideas that’s somewhat let down by indifferent thesping and sporadic humor. Still, pic should give him a firm foot in the door for future outings.
Title character is a 19-year-old Asian girl (Shelly Hong) stuck in the family dry-cleaning store. After a vaguely romantic brush with a stranger, she learns he’s been found dead, goes to claim the body and is accused of murder. She clams up, but the truth surfaces during visits from a neighborly kook (Deanne Judson).
Sketched in short scenes punctuated by fade-outs and brief musical comments, the conflicts between Lilly and her family are more successfully wrought than the central murder mystery.
Judson’s flat, unmodulated turn makes story anything but a mystery soon after she hits the screen. Similarly bland perfs from store regulars make Lilly’s urge to become part of the world seem less urgent.
But Marcoux strikes wryly original notes in other areas, making clever digs at the media’s power (fatuous glossy mags, in particular) to inform public opinion.
A keen sense of humor emerges as various locals theorize on what drove Lilly to kill, offering low blood sugar, sexual thrill-seeking, a prostie’s vendetta and lesbian man-hatred as probable explanations.
Tech work, including Joseph Micomonaco’s b&w lensing, is modest but clean.