Lindsay Lohan as Elizabeth Taylor? While the troubled starlet thinks she has the charms and graces of the screen icon, should she have been given the role of the portraying a screen legend? Lifetime network’s movie of the week Liz and Dick promises an exciting and detailed look inside the romance between Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. Instead it gives it viewers a terrible performance by a pouting Lindsay Lohan, bad editing and writing, and hardly references any deep passion that may have existed between the real stars in question.
The plot is clearly all about Liz and Dick; it is the title of the film after all. It opens with Richard Burton (Grant Bowler), a great Shakespearean theater actor, in Roman garb on the set of Cleopatra; tasked with keeping co-star Elizabeth Taylor (Lindsay Lohan) occupied. Burton’s charms fail to capture her attention. Fast forward about 10 minutes and Liz, who assures Burton she will not be another notch on his belt, is engaged in an adulterous affair with the actor and cannot live without him. In romantic Italy, the pair continues their affair, lived in front of the cameras. After each divorce their current attachments; for her Eddie Fisher, whom she had an affair with while he was married to Debbie Reynolds, and for him his wife Cybil, Liz and Dick are free to marry and live out their glamorous movie stars’ life. Fast forward a little more the couple divorce, marry again, divorce again, and The End.
The plot is basic, the story of the relationship between Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. While the well documented affair exists in the photos taken of the stars, one would think the film makers would have plenty of material to draw from. A couple who marries and divorces only to marry and divorce again should provide plenty of drama but the film falls flat in imagining what the relationship was really like. The film, albeit the writing or a case of bad editing, jumps from event to event in the couple’s lives without any really good transition. The initial attraction is not well developed; Liz goes from hating to loving Richard in a matter of minutes in the film. As the pair’s adultery continues on, their spouses seem to be thrown in as an afterthought. Obviously the relationship is rocky, so is the pace of the film. It does not follow a concise formula, and while it gets the gist of the major events if this relationship, it fails to capture anything deeply. Perhaps the only interesting points are Liz’s refusal/ jealousy of letting Richard star in a film with Sophia Loren and Burton’s poor sportsmanship when he cannot win an Academy Award. Obviously nobody really knows what went on in the private moments between Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, but somehow it is hard to believe they existed with sustenance. What made them tick? The film never clearly answers that.
Liz and Dick has been billed as a comeback attempt for the troubled Lindsay Lohan, who incidentally has lived quite a tabloid driven life, the same as her idol Elizabeth Taylor. Sadly for Lohan this is not the return she was hoping for as she falls flat in her attempt to bring the vivacious Liz to life. As Elizabeth, Lohan pouts and whines and sits around in period costumes trying to capture the magic that was Liz. Lohan may have been promising in her earlier roles but here she does not appear able to handle the material. A different actress could have done a better job with the role than Lohan has. She may look a little like Liz and idolize her, but that does not mean Lohan should have been considered the best person for the part.
To compliment Lohan’s Elizabeth Taylor is Grant Bowler’s Richard Burton. Bowler at least displays a range but gets trapped in the drunkard trope as he portrays the bad sides of Liz and Dick’s relationship. His winning moments are his quick quips in response to Elizabeth’s whining and his honesty about being a poor loser when he loses an award. Otherwise both Lohan and Bowler fall prey to the cheesy act of throwing glasses at the wall and up-ending tables. Even the supporting cast is not that adept, but should that be their doing when they are thrown in here and there? This is where the film stays on point, it says focused and Liz and Dick.
Elizabeth Taylor is perhaps just as famous for her love life as she is for her film career. While the premise of Liz and Dick looks promising it fails to capture any charm of the enigma that was Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor’s romance.