Lynn + Lucy

 

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New talents shine in an uneven but striking British drama.

 
Lynn + Lucy  

Nichola Burley and Roxanne Scrimshaw

 

The great thing about this film is the superlative performance given by newcomer Roxanne Scrimshaw in the role of Lynn. She has already won two awards for it, one shared with her co-star Nichola Burley who plays Lucy, and indeed Fyzal Boulifa, whose first feature this is, has also received two awards as best director. However, he is also the writer here and, despite Lynn + Lucy being a promising start for him, I found that what had impressed in every way for about two-thirds of its length failed to hold up due to an increasingly unconvincing screenplay.

 

As the title indicates, this is the tale of two women and it's one that shows how Lynn and Lucy have been best friends since schooldays regardless of contrasts in outlook and in character. When we meet them they are already well into their twenties but, while their bond has remained firm, their lives in Harlow have taken very different courses. Lynn had become pregnant at sixteen and had settled into marriage with the father of her child, Paul (Shaq B. Grant). Consequently, her life has come to revolve around him and their ten-year-old daughter (Tia Nelson). Lucy also has a man in her life now, but her boyfriend, Clark (Samson Cox-Vinell), is younger than she is and volatile too: in the circumstances the fact that they have just had a baby, with Lynn inevitably invited to be the boy's godmother, is hardly auspicious.

 

What follows is best left undisclosed here beyond saying that an unexpected dramatic event occurs and that the film then goes on to show how this threatens to cut across the friendship, one that had seemed so secure despite Lynn accepting a domesticated life-style and working in a local hairdresser's as opposed to Lucy still liking to party and to act the rebel (an attitude epitomised by her dyeing her hair blue). As director, Boulifa has a style of his own: this is reflected in early short impressionistic scenes akin to snapshots of the main characters and their lives and in a conscious use of colour in the photography of Taina Galis that is quite distinct from what one would find in a Ken Loach film with a comparable setting. Even so, this stands as a piece of working class realist cinema that carries deep conviction until a certain point is reached.

 

The very first indication of a possible fissure opening up between the friends is utterly persuasive, the detail precisely judged, but thereafter Boulifa's screenplay seems far too calculated in the way it builds up the drama.  Hostility to Lucy arises in the local community and this could have seemed in line with today's attitudes but, as written, it feels too contrived and one key moment doesn't ring true at all. Furthermore, there is a sense that Boulifa didn't really know where he wanted to take his story. Just because the film has been so very effective earlier, this falling away is a real disappointment. Nevertheless, Boulifa could become a filmmaker of note and in any case under his care Scrimshaw and Burley deliver such in-depth performances that Lynn + Lucy definitely deserves to be seen despite its failings.

 

MANSEL STIMPSON

 

Cast: Roxanne Scrimshaw, Nichola Burley, Jennifer Lee Moon, Tia Nelson, Shaq B. Grant, Kacey Ainsworth, Ashleigh Bannister, Samson Cox-Vinell, Jack Shalloo, Jordan Long, Christopher Patrick Nolan.

 

Dir Fyzal Boulifa, Pro Camilla Bray, Screenplay Fyzal Boulifa, Ph Taina Galis, Pro Des Samuel Charbonnot, Ed Fyzal Boulifa and Taina Galis, Costumes Clare Rose.

 

BBC Films/Lipsync/Rosetta Productions/Sixteen Films/Vixens-BFI Distribution.
87 mins. UK. 2019. Rel: 2 July 2020. Available on BFI Player. Cert. 15.