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What would you do for love? An American mother receives word that her drug addled son has been kidnapped and is being held for ransom by a drug lord operating in South Africa. She makes the journey to South Africa to pay the ransom only to run into violent and dangerous obstacles as she faces the kidnappers in the mean streets of Johannesburg. Her only chance to get her son back alive is to work with her son's pregnant girlfriend who is fighting her own battle against the drug lord.
I had a significant increase in Melissa Leo requests since last month's Oscar nomination so I went with her latest piece that no one had heard of (she has eleven other films coming out this year since Woodcock and Righteous Kill didn't exactly showcase anything for her).
This story takes place in the impoverished streets of a city in South Africa and briefly in a trailer park in the southern US. Melissa Leo plays the waitress/mother of a drug-addled son taken hostage by a dealer/pimp across the ocean from her. After finding out that she needs to pay the ransom to save his life, she flies across and dives head first into the crime filled life her son was living.
Admittedly, she looked and acted like she just came off the set of Frozen River, in every way. Her mannerisms, dress and role all appeared identical. As did the depression level of this whole film. The supporting cast and film stock were both average and sometimes below mediocre, so the redemption had to be Melissa. In the end though, even the writing collapsed, as shown when the drug laced prostitute (girlfriend of the son) was pregnant the last half of the film - had taken a quantity of drugs, been kicked and beaten, been working the streets the whole time, but magically produces a healthy kid with no care. Maybe she beat the odds. But anyway, the ending really fell apart in believability, even though the director had just helmed such spectacular flops as Prey and Dracula 3000.
A skipper all the way, though it looks like at least half of the upcoming films of Leo's will be better for her to showcase her skills.
A sleeper hit simply overlooked by the shadow of the brilliant "Frozen River" film. Melissa Leo has been an actress for nearly 30 years and has surely paid her dues. She takes her roles and lives tham like no other actress in the industy today. In my opinion..she is a cross between Meryl Streep & Jessica Lang and then some. Lullaby is a realistic film about a mother and the lengths she will go through to save a son in major trouble. Her performance in this film is raw and intellegent. I highly recommend "Lullaby" to all that have an appreciation for a good independent film.
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