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Lady of the Manor (2021) MOVIE REVIEW | CRPWrites

PROPERTY OF LIONSGATE

Movie Review

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  • Connor Petrey
  • crpWritescom
  • crpwritescom
  • crpWrites
Dempsey Pillot
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 Published: 09.14.21

         MPAA: R

Genre: Comedy.

Justin Long makes his directorial debut...

     RELEASE: 09.17.21

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LADY OF THE MANOR (2021) 

OPENING THOUGHTS:

Lionsgate’s The Lady of the Manor opens in theaters this week. If you’re wondering why you probably haven’t seen or heard about it, that's because the studio has totally buried it. Personally, I try to steer clear from films that are purposely put under the radar, but the fact that underrated queens Melanie Lynskey and Judy Greer star and Justin Long directed it more than caught my curiosity. 

 

Is it worth checking out though?...

DIRECTION:

As I previously mentioned, Justin Long makes his directorial debut with this film alongside his brother Christian. The film is also based on a film that the two wrote. Considering Long’s history with comedy, the film is - as expected - funny. However it’s not as funny as it should have been given all the talent attached. There are some perfectly timed bits, including one that involves Lynskey’s character occasionally passing gas, but the film ultimately fell short for me.

 

Both Long brothers do a good job with the film, but there aren’t any major creative decisions made to help it stand out from other modern comedies. Conversely, there are probably one too many montages. With so much going on, that device is used as a crutch more than once to help speed things along. Even though it works, you feel the film being dragged at other points.

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PLOT:

The film revolves around a burnout (played excellently by Lynskey) who, after some legal trouble, gets a job as a tour guide at a historic estate. Shortly after she begins working there though, she begins to see the ghost of the woman (played by Greer) it’s named after. Together, they teach each other that the living and the dead might have some things in common after all.

 

I really enjoyed the idea of the two of them teaching each other how to be better people. It’s probably the most interesting concept the film has to offer, but there is so much else going on that it quickly fades into the background. For instance, there's a mystery that eventually arises, and Lynsky’s character must help the ghost kind of avenge her death. That occupies the entire second half of the film.

 

Also, for a ghost story, there isn’t a whole lot of fun to be had with Greer’s character. Instead, she eventually appears whenever it’s convenient for the story. I half expected her to haunt the house she inhabits or attempt a possession. I know it sounds super ambitious, but rather than fully explore the story’s potential, the Long brothers just settle for the subpar.

ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:

Regardless of the direction and the story, I must say that Lynskey and Greer are great in this. I love their chemistry. Despite the limits placed on their characters, I also love their arcs. Of all the film’s crimes, it’s greatest one is easily the fact that it has two of the most talented and versatile actresses working today at the forefront of a clunky comedy.

 

In addition to co-directing, Justin Long also co-stars in the film. He plays a monotonous side character, who eventually becomes a love interest for Lynskey’s character. Nevertheless, he’s the most forgettable secondary character.

 

Ryan Phillipe also appears as the film’s main antagonist and, while I hoped he would sport the same comedic chops he showed off in MacGruber, here he fails to deliver any laughs at all. Even though his character is notorious for not caring about anything, it actually feels like Phillipe doesn’t care. In fact, the last line he delivers in the film (which I can’t repeat here) feels like it’s more directed at his frustration at the project than any of the characters he’s talking to.

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VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:

For a film with a ghost in it, there are barely any special effects in this. Even the one time we see Greer’s character phase through a wall, it does not look convincing. Once again, you would think that with a concept like this the directors would lean more into the supernatural. Because they don’t it not only makes it hard to suspend your disbelief, but it makes it easy to forget Greer is a ghost. While practical, having her pop in and out of scenes doesn’t do her character or the story enough justice.

 

Regarding production design, the house that a majority of the film takes place in looks beautiful. Because we’re only ever shown the same two or three parts of it, we can’t be sure.

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MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:

The only thing to note about the film’s sound is its soundtrack. However, even though the songs are good and do mesh well with the story, they are only ever used throughout the film’s numerous montages. 

 

It’s almost too on-the-nose for a film with this little sound design to have so little to say.

CLOSING THOUGHTS:

I didn’t hate Lady of the Manor. As I’ve already pointed out, I think there was a lot of promise. It’s just such a shame that in an era where creativity and talent are scarce, both are wasted on something so hollow.

Available in Select Theaters, on Digital and On Demand September 17th! Available on Blu-ray and DVD September 21st!

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CONCLUSIVE VERDICT:

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