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    Lila & Eve (2015): Movie Review

    “A sloppy tale of mourning mothers seeking vengeance.”

    Two bereaved mothers who take the law into their own hands are the heroines of Lila & Eve, a Lifetime Films’ production directed by Charles Stone III. When the justice system fails to bring light to their children’s death, they collaborate to search for the truth, even if it means taking the lives of other mothers’ children. 

    In a stunning and phenomenal performance, Viola Davis stars as Lila, a single mother of two loving children from Atlanta. Her world crashes down when her 18-year-old college-bound son Stephon (Aml Ameen) is killed in crossfire of a drive-by shooting. Worse, the police force seems indifferent to the case. Barely able to tend to herself and her younger son Justin (Ron Caldwell), Lila seeks refuge in “Mothers of New Angels,” a 12-step support group for mothers whose children have also been murdered. There, she meets Eve.

    Apathetic and non-participative, Eve (Jennifer Lopez) is a street-smart home decorator whose daughter was killed under unmentioned circumstances. Sensing Eve’s pain and inability to move on from her loss, Lila chooses her to be her sponsor, a partner to whom she can talk intimately and share feelings freely. While engaging in a curative home improvement activity one night, the two accidentally find a gun in Justin’s bag. While the discovery appals Lila, this sparks Eve’s idea of finding information about the shooting that fated night.

    This first target leads the duo into the underworld and they eventually launch a killing spree. The more they kill, the more Lila becomes uncertain while the more Eve becomes daring. Soon, their action takes the interest of both local crime top dog (Rey Hernandez) and cop Holliston (Shea Whigham) and his partner Scaketti (Andre Royo). 

    Lila & Eve started with good intentions. Other than dealing with the despair of mothers coming to terms with their children’s unfounded death, the film also depicts how justice eludes certain communities, evident with the local force’s seemingly lack of interest to drug-related urban crimes. It is promising at the beginning but gradually loses focus and center. Instead of inspiring sympathy, sadness or rage, the movie shifts from a poignant atmosphere to cold violence and chaos. Grieving mothers become vigilantes, and in between killing kids and attending their support group, they manage to redecorate Lila’s house. Similarly, in between cold murders and sheer boredom, the film attempts to bring laughs, though most fall to being bad humor. In particular, that scene in the dance club is both distracting and uncomfortable. While looking out for their next target, Eve (or Lopez) suddenly unleashes her dance floor diva and moves along with Lila. In a very tight and tense moment, such sudden humor comes badly.

    The movie’s plot twist is also quite obvious and lame, and so when it was revealed, it did not come as a surprise. The movie is too generous in giving clues that we can easily piece them together. To compensate for the film’s sudden turn to violence, it attempts to be emotional again towards the end. Yet, the final scene is a lot messier and frustrating. With the support group covering for her and the cop’s unconvincing change of heart, Lila manages to escape from her crimes.

    As implied, Davis is the film’s saving grace. She is exceptional and affecting. With quiet dignity, she beautifully bears Lila’s pain and humanity, even while shooting her “enemies.” Her moments with the support group are very honest and stirring. Sadly, they are just too few and far apart as the film is more focused on vengeance. Lopez also rises up to Davis. She is careless as Eve, but witty and passionate at times. 

    Lila & Eve is interesting and endearing at the beginning. However, as its violent elements progress, it loses its pathos and charm. But thanks to Davis’ and Lopez’s performance, the film remains watchable up until its unsatisfying ending.


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