Liz & Dick
As far as Lifetime Original Movies go, this one is on the low side of average. This is aside from the fact that Lindsay Lohan’s performance ranks up there with that drunk woman you once met on Halloween who was dressed as Liz Taylor, but had clearly never seen more than a couple interviews with her and a few tabloid photos.
Liz & Dick chronicles the infamous love affair between Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton throughout the ‘60s and ‘70s. It begins during their filming of Cleopatra in the early ‘60s, and the film often cuts to Taylor (the aforementioned Lohan) and Burton (Grant Bowler, with a respectable performance) in a room being interviewed about their relationship. These little segments are the only times when Lohan’s performance is moderately palatable—but not by much.
Lohan’s portrayal of Taylor is being ridiculed all over the place, with memes and chat rooms and drinking games all based on her performance—or lack thereof. That being said, I am going to have to join in. Her accent is all over the place, varying from bad imitation all the way to Lindsay Lohan as Lindsay Lohan. It is so painfully clear that she did absolutely no research into her role and that she did little more than memorize a couple lines. A scene in which Burton tells her that he can no longer be with her, which prompts her to run to her room to attempt suicide by taking some pills, highlights her lack of connectedness. It’s comical at best, painful at worst.
Aside from Lohan, the rest of the movie is mostly just underwhelming. And the biggest question is why now? That’s the main issue. It never delves into the couple’s relationship in terms of how it relates to modern culture. The best period movies have some sort of relevance to the society of the day. Not so with Liz & Dick. And completely aside from this fact, the movie is just boring. It feels like a history lesson, more than a narrative. The characters are wooden and one-dimensional, and the plot is very by the numbers.
Are there any silver linings of this snoozer? Well, Grant Bowler does do a pretty convincing job as Richard Burton. He does actually show some depth and he adds a modicum of class to an otherwise forgettable Lifetime Original. One scene in particular that comes to mind is one in which Burton has been nominated for his fourth Academy Award (for his role in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?). Earlier in the scene, Elizabeth Taylor had just won the award for Best Actress—the irony of watching Lohan winning an Academy Award was not lost on me—and Burton winds up losing. The nuanced performance from Bowler is actually interesting to watch in this scene, as well as throughout the film.
The sad part is that Elizabeth Taylor is the part that Lindsay Lohan was born to play. The similarities in their careers, as well as in their personal lives, are actually pretty paralleled. So instead of Lohan using her own experience to guide her performance, she instead went with an undercooked impersonation, which makes the film fall flat. The few minor bright spots in the film are not enough to make it a worthwhile viewing experience, nor are the comical moments that are funny because they are not supposed to be funny (these moments are few and far between, making the film not funny-bad, just bad-bad). But really what was to be expected from a made-for-TV movie starring Lindsay Lohan? So, should you spend two hours watching Liz & Dick, as it will undoubtedly re-run for the next several months? Maybe read a book instead.