Lynn + Lucy [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray B - United Kingdom - British Film Institute
Review written by and copyright: James-Masaki Ryan (8th November 2020).
The Film

"Lynn + Lucy" (2019)

Lynn (played by Roxanne Scrimshaw) is a married stay at home mother of a 10-year-old girl. Lucy (played by Nichola Burley) is also a mother, but a new one, giving birth to her first child recently. The two 26-year-old women have known each other since childhood and have been best friends ever since, and also happen to live across the street from each other in a suburban English working class town. With the two of them now being mothers, things seem to be heading in a more parallel and positive direction for the both of them. But one tragedy and circulating rumors turn happiness into turmoil...

It's hard not to discuss "Lynn + Lucy" without spoiling tragic moment. It is one that is devastating, but interestingly the truth on what exactly happened and how, but regardless of who did what and how, the emotional tragedy remains. I'll do my honors and not spoil it for future audiences.

"Lynn + Lucy" is a very intimate kitchen sink drama that is inspired by the works of Woodfall films and filmmaker Ken Loach, giving a mirrored look at the everyday working class, with this film having more emphasis on women. Not exactly feminist in showing a strong females, it's much more about the emotional struggles of young women in a modern society. Motherhood, work, maturing. For Lynn's character, she became a mother at 16, and is now taking care of her daughter Lola (played by Tia Nelson) as well as her injured husband Paul (played by Shaq B. Grant). To make ends meet she gets her first job at a neighborhood hair salon, owned by former classmate Janelle (played by Jennifer Lee Moon). It's an awkward job interview, as Janelle is beautiful with her style, make-up and hair while Lynn is basically the same as she looked in high school. But she has no major choices without any experience in the workforce and needing to make ends meet. For Lucy with her dyed blue hair, nose ring and more revealing clothes, she has led a more promiscuous partying life in comparison to Lynn. But married to Clark (played by Samson Cox-Vinell), the couple are not exactly the ideal loving pair, as they frequently yell at each other and the home life is tense with the new baby. Lynn and Lucy's relationship may be tight because of their lengthy time together, but a night out together at the local club one seems to encapsulate their relationship. They have matching tattoos signifying their bond. They dance to one of their favorite cheesy songs (a Paris Hilton song no less) when it starts to play. They play off each other's humor when they tell an old classmate that they were lesbians. But they drink and they dance, Lucy starts making out with a random guy, and Lynn has to care for wasted best friend. It's not the most loving and not the healthiest, and it causes greater concern in the second half of the story.

Once a tragic death occurs and the community points fingers at Lucy with suspicion, Lynn is basically the only person on her side. Others including staff at the hair salon as well as her family start to make her change her mind about things, rethink of her relationship with Lucy throughout the years. It's amazing to think that the actress Roxanne Scrimshaw had never acted before "Lynn + Lucy". Her performance is an incredible standout in the emotionally heavy drama, with her natural performance that is equally loving as it is intense. Nichola Burley as Lucy is also very strong with a manic new mother going through an emotional crisis. Fyzal Boulifa made a name for himself with award winning short films such as "The Curse" (2012) (available as an extra on this disc) and "Rate Me" (2015), and "Lynn + Lucy" is his feature length first and an extraordinarily powerful one at that as both writer and director. The pacing can be slow with some sequences having intimate pauses rather that rushed dialogue, but it is the pauses and quieter moments that stand out, relying on the actors and their subtle body language to communicate their pent up emotions. There is a lot unspoken in "Lynn + Lucy", and sometimes the less said the more powerful the result. The cinematopgraphy by Taina Galis is also a standout, with the tight aspect ratio of 1.33:1 being used for the production. The closeups are always tight, and two shots are very intimate, and in this modern age an unusual choice to shoot the film. Static shots are most common, but the tracking shots such as Lynn entering the hair salon, the walk and talk sequences between the two give a sense of location very well.

"Lynn + Lucy" premiered at the San Sebastián Film Festival on Sept 22 2019, followed by festival screenings in Zurich, London, Macau, and Les Arcs (France) throughout the rest of the year. The reaction was very positive, with Boulifa winning Best Director and Scrimshaw winning Best Actress at the Macau festival, and Burley and Scrimshaw winning an award together at the Vilnius International Film Festival, plus many other nominations. The theatrical release in the UK was cancelled due to COVID-19 and was released via streaming from July 2 2020 to rave critical reviews for the performances and the direction. Granted "Lynn + Lucy" is not for everyone. The pacing is slow even for the fairly short runtime of less than 90 minutes and it's not a film that gives easy answers. For ones looking for a drama with heart and soul that is not afraid to go to darker territory, it certainly hits the right marks.

Note this is a region B Blu-ray

Video

The BFI presents the film in the original 1.33:1 aspect ratio in 1080p AVC MPEG-4. Shot digitally and transferred digitally, the image is bright and detailed, with pastel colors being reproduced nicely. Darker interiors and night scenes may lack a little detail but they do look well balanced. There is not much to fault with this transfer. The academy ratio frame is a rarity these days and fits quite well with the intimate atmosphere the story tells between the two women.

The film's runtime is 87:23.

Audio

English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
English LPCM 2.0 stereo
English Audio Descriptive LPCM 2.0 stereo

There are three audio tracks available. A lossless 5.1 track and two stereo tracks, with one being a downmix of the surround track and the other being a descriptive track. The 5.1 track is not the heaviest or well used, being a dialogue heavy film but for the occasional music and effects there is activity in the surround speakers like at the club. Dialogue is centered and there are no particular issues with dropouts or hiss, sounding very clear and well balanced.

There are optional English HoH subtitles for the main feature in a white font.

Extras

Interviews (with Play All) (73:31)
- Fyzal Boulifa talks to Danny Leigh (39:38)
- Nichola Burley talks to Nia Childs (18:00)
- Roxanne Scrimshaw talks to Nia Childs (15:52)

Three interviews were conduced between the director and the two actresses. Boulifa talks about the creation of the characters and their motivations, having some autobiographical moments in the story while others made up of fictional accounts, his upbringing and background, and more in the lengthiest talk of the set. Burley discusses her feeling of getting the part, her character and her fear of maturing, the emotional haircut scene which was done for real, and more. Scrimshaw talks about her audition and the personal experiences she placed in playing her character, and some of the funnier behind the scenes moments. These three new interviews were conducted remotely due to COVID-19 restrictions so there are issues with video being pixelated and blocky and the sound being echoey and sometimes cutting out at points.
in 1080p AVC MPEG-4, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 with no subtitles

Casting and Audition Footage (with Play All) (20:40)
- Roxanne Scrimshaw casting interview (6:49)
- Roxanne Scrimshaw and Nichola Burley callback audition (13:50)

The first has casting director Lara Manwaring talking to Scrimshaw from June 6 2018, which was done through a video phone chat, basically of Scrimshaw talking about herself and her life including starting chicken farming and being a single mother. The second has Scrimshaw and Burley performing for the first time together, seeing their chemistry as supposed best friends come to life. This audition was on Sept 19 2018.
in 1080p AVC MPEG-4, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 with no subtitles

Behind the Scenes Gallery (4:44)
A series of on set photographs taken by Wiame Haddad are here in an automated slideshow without narration
in 1080p AVC MPEG-4

"The Curse" 2012 short (16:12)
Director Fyzal Boulifa's 2012 short taking place in rural Morocco about a young woman Fatine (played by Ibtissam Zabara) and some trouble she gets into when some local kids catch her with an older man was a winner of multiple awards, including at Cannes and the Dubai International Film Festival.
in 1080i 50Hz AVC MPEG-4, in 1.66:1, in Arabic Dolby Digital 2.0 with burned-in English subtitles

"New Towns in Britain" 1956 documentary short (14:15)
Following the destruction of London during WWII and the rebuilding to take time, the New Towns Act of 1946 was passed to build planned communities in the outer suburbs. Harlow, north of London, which is the community shown in "Lynn + Lucy" was one of them. This short film showcases what a new town is, with interviews with planners and people that live in the town, which has new facilities in a easy to live environment. At the time of the short the community was fully constructed with a population of 30,000. Interestingly this short was made for American audiences (hence the explanation of what a "pram" is for the Americans who say "Baby Carriage"). An original 35mm combined duplicating positive held by the BFI was used for the transfer here. The black and white image looks fairly good with the grey scale, though speckles, scratches are often seen. The sound is also crackly at times though the narration is fairly easy to understand.
in 1080p AVC MPEG-4, in 1.37:1, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 without subtitles


Trailer (1:31)
The original trailer with many critics quotes is presented here. It has also been embedded below.
in 1080p AVC MPEG-4, in 1.33:1, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 with no subtitles

Booklet
A 32 page booklet is included with the first pressing. First is a 2-page director's statement. This is followed by the essay "Distate of Union" by critic Jessica Kiang about the production. Next is the essay "Fear and Loathing in the Shopping Precinct" by critic Mike McCahill on where the film stands among kitchen sink films and its production. There are also stills, credits, special features information, transfer information and acknowledgements.

Overall

"Lynn + Lucy" is one of the best and most emotionally hard hitting dramas of the year, with excellent performances from the leads, especially newcomer Roxanne Scrimshaw. The BFI Blu-ray features a great transfer with a good selection of extras making this highly recommended.

The Film: A Video: A Audio: A Extras: B Overall: A-

 


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