Lulu And Jimi

Lulu And Jimi


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

With its candy floss palette, retro styling and musical set-pieces, this film is two-parts David Lynch and one-part Baz Luhrmann. The result is a heady and frothy brew with a surprisingly sharp undernote but which will leave you with a warm glow long as you head for the pub.

Writer/director Oskar Roehler (Atomised) wears his debt to Lynch on his sleeve, with an opening credits dedication (in pink, naturally) to "David L". That this is, to a large extent, an homage to Lynch's Wild At Heart is also not in doubt, with its central character sharing the name of Lulu and the thrust of the movie - a 'forbidden' love which Lulu's mother seeks to destroy - a common theme.

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It is 1959, and Lulu (Jennifer Decker) is being groomed for marriage to the rich but deeply unattractive son of the local industrialist by her overbearing mother (Katrin Saß). Lulu, like Lynch's central character before her, is wild at heart and has other ideas, especially after a chance meeting with Ray Fearon's itinerant Jimi at the local fairground. Despite their different worlds - he a black American with a troubled past, she, white and well-heeled - they fall instantly in love, but elopement might not prove as simple as it first appears.

Lulu's mother recalls the madness of Diane Ladd from Lynch's flick, mixed with a touch of the Baby Janes, which lend her almost insane desire to keep her daughter away from "the nigger" at all costs a darkly sinister edge. Fearon, meanwhile is a revelation as the cocksure American, in a turn which suggests his soap acting in the likes of Corrie and Doctors may soon be a thing of the past.

Lulu And Jimi certainly shares with Lynch a level of surrealism and an ability to switch mood dramatically from the candy floss highs of love to much darker territory. These changes are underlined by some beautifully composed scenes, excellent cinematography and a cracking score by Martin Todsharow. The result, like the fairground ride Jimi works on, disorientates the viewer, but Roehler's film has a much softer centre than Lynch would ever allow, recalling the extravagances of Luhrmann, that will make Lulu And Jimi more easily accessible to those put off by some of Lynch's more winding alleyways.

Some may find the dubbing off-putting - in the original German Ray Fearon is dubbed into German, while in the English language version, he retains a convincing American accent, and Decker's lines are dubbed into English - but for those prepared to accept it, and it's hard to see how subtitles would have improved things in any way, this is an excessively engaging ride, which while perhaps owing just a little bit too much to Wild At Heart, certainly offers enough of a spin on love conquering all and good triumphing over evil to make it a crowd-pleaser.

Reviewed on: 29 Mar 2009
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Lovers go on the run in late Fifties Germany.

Director: Oskar Roehler

Writer: Oskar Roehler

Starring: Jennifer Decker, Ray Fearon, Katrin Saß, Rolf Zacher, Udo Kier

Year: 2009

Runtime: 94 minutes

Country: Germany, France

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