What's Up Lovely, from director Gary King (New York Lately, Death of the Dead) follows the story of one woman, Luci (Jenn Dees). It is the first of three films in King’s “loneliness” trilogy.
Luci is a soon to be unemployed insomniac who spends her nights roaming the seemingly desolate streets of New York City discovering a world she had never imagined and coming face-to-face with her urban reality and her personal demons.
What's Up Lovely is a splash of surrealism, like a Salvador Dali or Vincent Van Gogh painting, only in film form. The avant-garde approach King chose to take with his narrative film hints at influences from films by directors Lynch or Soderbergh. The film features a beautiful score, that matches it’s surrealistic persona.
Luci wanders the streets late at night following people around at first what starts off as “people-watching”, then becomes near stalking and mimicking of their conversations she overhears. I truly started to question the state of her sanity as I watched her odd behavior rapidly deteriorate.
Frankly I was surprised “The Couple” were the first to confront Luci on her odd behavior and conversational mimicking. Not only that but I was equally surprised at Luci’s lack of concern for her own personal safety as she continued on her journey through her seemingly aimless night wanderings.
Subtly used monologues and disjointed imagery throughout the film hints at some deeper issues and emotional trauma that Luci has yet to deal with.
Succinct moments of clarity and understanding, such as when Luci helps “The Father-In-Law” character to the train station, enlightens viewers and gives the character’s life cohesiveness.
Just when you think you know where the story is going, there are disconnections with reality. The clarity is fractured by morbid and otherworldly images. Images of a man being mugged at knife point, to the bizarre bar scene where the pants-less bartender takes Luci to a curtained off area, to the outlandish photo shoot Luci wakes up being a part of.
Jenn Dees displays sincerity and a wide emotional range that makes her portrayal of the troubled Luci very believable. It would take more than one viewing of What’s Up Lovely to fully understand all it’s complex nuances.
Near the beginning of the film King places a visual autograph on the film by having Luci’s character sit in front of a half lit neon sign that only has “King” remaining aglow. Viewers might also be interested to note that director Gary King makes a cameo appearance as the unmasked dark figure that Luci confronts during the ending moments of the film.
If you appreciate abstract-experiential cinema that will give you a unique viewing experience, then I highly recommend pre-order up your copy of What’s Up Lovely asap!