Lexie Cannes, this film’s title character, is a deaf, transvestite prostitute living in Portland, Oregon. She tries to sustain a relationship with her girlfriend Rhonda, develop her skills as a photographer, and try to keep herself and the people she cares about safe.
(This version of Lexie Cannes is the second version of the film that was previously critiqued by Jeremy Hanke in our June issue. You can read the critique here.)
This is certainly a very unique movie. It is essentially a silent film, because its main character communicates with everyone she meets through sign language or writing on paper. The lines are shown in captions, and in place of dialogue, there is a beautiful and eerie score. Given the format of the movie, however, it initially looks like a bit of an art film, and I found myself a bit confused until I realized that the characters are using sign language and notes to communicate.
One of the greatest benefits of this format is that, not only does it reach out to the deaf community, but it provides a great opportunity for actors to act in a very different manner. In this case, that paid off very well, as the acting was very expressive.
I don’t know sign language very well, so I can’t speak to the accuracy of the translations in the subtitles but they work to convey the storyline. However, along those same lines, there are a few instances where Lexie receives some e-mails, but, unfortunately, they are not kept on screen long enough that the viewer can read them. As a general rule, text should be left up long enough that it can be read through three times by an average to fast reader. That way it should be up long enough that even a slow reader can make their way through.
Finally, perhaps the biggest issues with the film is its structure. There are multiple storylines that, even in themselves, are interesting: Lexie’s relationship with her girlfriend Rhonda, both girls’ past and family issues, Lexie’s friend Maya whom she tries to help, a man who keeps following Lexie and many other women around with a video camera, who may or may not be connected to recent murders of prostitutes in the area. The problem lies in how they are put together. At the beginning of the film, they all start to emerge and do intertwine as they should, but then the one storyline that is the most intriguing – a hunt for the killer – takes precedence over the others. Once the killer is caught, one would assume that the story has ended, but it is only halfway done.
Mirroring Jeremy Hanke’s comments earlier this year, I felt that these different storyline should be woven all through each other, all the while gradually revealing more and more about the killer through his growing number of victims, until the climax of him finally being caught. After all that is over, the relationship between Lexie and Rhonda can have a final resolution. Otherwise, as Jeremy also alluded to, each storyline could be pieced into smaller serials of their own, much like a series of shorts we critiqued here called Infamous .