July 29, 2005
Volume 33
Issue 30

Tuesday, Mar 01, 2016 02:09
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Lila Says - fantasy and reality inevitably collide
Lila Says - fantasy and reality inevitably collide
by Derich Mantonela - SGN A&E Writer

Lila Says - A film entirely about sex... or is it? (Plays at the Varsity)

In summarizing Lila Says, a French/Italian/English production based on a popular novel claimed to have been written by a young Arab man known as Chimo, one is tempted to say that it is a movie entirely about sex.

But Lila Says turns out to be surprisingly deeper than that, despite its disarming opening scene in which Lila, an extraordinarily beautiful teenage girl (Vahina Giocante, of Marie From The Bay Of Angels) offers to show her pussy ("chat" in French slang) to a shy Arab man (Chimo, author of the book, played by Mohammed Khouas) only slightly older than herself. From that point on, we are seduced into a secret, fragile world of sexuality as fantasy, as a means of communication, as escape from the troubles and disappointments of real life, and as an outlet for innocence, intimacy, and hope.

Set in a largely foreign, down-and-out working-class section of Marseilles, Lila Says focuses on a small neighborhood gang of Arab youths of which Chimo is a somewhat passive member, though his ambitions of escaping the ghetto and making a life for himself outside of Marseilles do not sit well with his mates.

Chimo is somewhat passive in sex, too (Lila practically has to beg him to take her up on her "chat" offer, and soon after that she gives him a handjob while the two of them are riding on her motorbike) but clearly he is smitten by the mysterious, alluring creature who has made him her special project.

Lila torments and delights Chimo with her tales of past sexual adventures and her inventive erotic fantasies, while he struggles to keep his relationship with her (far more platonic than not) secret from his increasingly jealous and suspicious gang buddies, who more and more see Lila as fair game for their macho sexual maraudings.

Fantasy and reality inevitably collide, and there are bittersweet, violent consequences, though Lebanese-American director Ziad Doueiri (former camerman for Quentin Tarantino) tones down the book's downer ending.

Sensitively directed, written and acted, with a realistic, sympathetic feel for its milieu, Lila Says conveys much about friendship, love and trust, and the basic human need for intimacy in its various forms, only one of which is sex.
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