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A boy whose childhood abuse drove him mad meets a girl from the suburbs bored with her life. He talks about killing Elvis, she is in love, so off to LA they go.
Trigger Warning(s): Gun Violence
Review (with Spoilers)
As likely said before, being an Emily Browning fan is difficult. For with every God Help The Girl or even Legend pretty much comes the rest of her filmography. Yet this vulnerability in her eyes, the desire to trust in her voice, it makes it so you can’t help but hope for a happy ending. Well, alongside a movie which is actually worth watching of course. So, with that said, let’s see if the long dormant Shangri-La Suite or Kill the King should have stayed on someone hard drive to collect dust or is something you must see. Shall we?
Characters & Story
Karen (Emily Browning)
Poor Karen, probably barely 18, if that, is bored with life. She grew up in the suburbs to well-off parents, and in the pursuit of excitement she ended up forced by her parents into rehab. There she meets Jack – this wild man. Though, as she eventually learns, while he does bring the excitement she has long craved, he may just be a bit too much for her.
Jack (Luke Grimes)
Being raised by a single father who blames you for your mom not being around, well it is tough. Add on said father is dealing with the oppression of native Americans and is abusive, well that would drive anyone crazy. Hence why Jack gets regular shock treatment and is in a rehab center. However, he doesn’t plan to be there forever for his mom spoke to him from beyond the grave and told him to kill Elvis (Ron Livingston). Something he plans on doing.
Teijo (Avan Jogia)
Jack’s only friend is an odd young man. Not just because he is queer, possibly trans, but because there is just something about him which comes off so peculiar. Hence why, even when it comes to crazy Jack, there is a certain amount of understanding. Thus why they are friends. But the reason Teijo is part of this story is he wants to escape to LA with Jack and Karen. Even if that means riding in a car with those two crazy kids.
Teijo Is Comical
The sole reason Teijo is mentioned is not because I’m a fan of Avan Jogia. The main reason he is mentioned is because listening to Jogia do an effeminate voice and sort of strut that way is a sight to see and hear.
It’s Not Funny, It’s Not Heart wrenching, It Is Just Violence and Elvis Music
I do my best to approach each movie without thinking it has to be a potential Oscar winner or any such standard. Yet, at the same time, it has to bring some sort of feeling out. Be it having comical moments which makes it an enjoyable experience, perhaps even being touching if not making you cry a bit. This has none of that. Well, Jogia is comical but only because he is playing Teijo in the most stereotypical way so it is offensive funny. However, we don’t really get to understand what it is like to be queer in the 70s, much less trans, queer and an indigenous American. The same issue goes for Karen. For while Browning in this article speaks on being done playing “the hot babe that doesn’t say anything, that can’t have an opinion” here she is once again. We are told little anecdotes like she came from a nice family and her parents stuck her in the rehab where she met Jack, but that’s it. From there she is the person who rolls around in bed with him, has some moments of questioning Jack not really taken seriously, and honestly, the film makes you wonder is the problem Hollywood doesn’t take her seriously or her picking roles like this to keep the bills paid the problem?
As for Jack? His background dealing with his mom dying and abusive dad could have given this film some sort of grounding, but with it having an American Horror Story type of vibe, that is done away with. For Grimes’ performance is the bad side of campy. It isn’t cute and weird, but terrible and it helps you understand why the actors and their social media accounts will probably be the main place this is marketed.
Overall: Negative (Skip It)
I think I have had this movie on my IMDB watchlist since Twisted had new episodes and honestly, I fully forgot about it. Seeing it now, I wish it would have stayed forgotten. For while I’m still committed to the careers of Emily Browning and Avan Jogia, I gotta admit their presence alone can’t always be the silver lining. For shallow characters and no real chance to see their comedic or dramatic skills makes it seem they are working to pay bills vs. really trying to craft a quality resume.