Is it possible to find the love of your life without looking for them? Can you keep them once you’ve made it official? That’s part of the premise behind the Lifetime movie “Liz & Dick,” which based its tale on a true love story that wasn’t given the right amount of respect.
“Liz & Dick” followed movie stars Elizabeth Taylor (Lindsay Lohan) and Richard Burton (Grant Bowler) after they met on the set of their first starring vehicle together “Cleopatra.” They didn’t like each other at first, but the attraction was evident once they let go of all their pretenses. Sadly, they were already married and had families of their own to contend with. When their heated affair was exposed, it caused a major scandal that only took them getting married to fix. Unfortunately, their love story didn’t have an ideal Hollywood ending for everyone involved. Sure, Liz and Dick sold a lot of newspapers, but they couldn’t fight their own demons. He fought a heavy drinking problem and she tried to fight the idea of getting older. They also spent more money on each other quicker than they could make another movie. Is it possible for a love affair to survive multiple divorces and a major tragic loss?
In terms of questions, viewers clearly knew that Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton’s love story had a sad ending for everyone involved. The story was a classic tale of scandal, passion and sadness. Lifetime took a huge risk in adapting such an iconic story without giving it the proper care, but they made a decent effort nonetheless. Some of the location shoots were beautiful pieces of scenery that sometimes allowed viewers to forget why they were watching “Liz & Dick” in the first place. What the movie should’ve focused on instead was trying to find the right balance in telling Liz and Dick’s love story the right way. Unfortunately, the story spent a little too much time focusing on the couple going through the tough times that their happier moments were often overlooked. If the script tried to flesh out their story better, the movie might have been more a lot memorable than as a forgettable television movie.
As for the lead actors, the results were rather mixed because they seemed both to be out of place, even when they tried their hardest to play their parts well. It also didn’t help that Bowler and Lohan were often seated in a mock interview type situation, which took viewers away from the story more than it helped. Despite some storyline mistakes, Bowler seemed to capture the general idea of Burton’s intense nature, but he often got lost in the shuffle of the movie’s wild narrative style. The movie’s narrative also tended to focus more on Lohan’s bombastic performance as Taylor, which left Bowler with little to do but react to her on-screen actions. It’s a shame that Bowler didn’t get the chance to explore some Burton’s on and off screen demons further in his own story. Fingers crossed that Bowler will get a leading role worthy of his potential sometime soon.
In terms of Lohan’s performance, the movie rested on her shoulders for the right and the wrong reasons. She had a strong screen presence as she pranced around as Ms. Taylor, but she didn’t have the right level of maturity to play her. Lohan made her Taylor more of a misunderstood girl than a grown woman who longed to be young again. It would’ve been nice for viewers to see a more grown up version of Taylor than a woman lost between childhood and adulthood. The movie allowed Lohan to reflect on her character’s mistakes in the interview scenes, but it would’ve been nicer to see those reflections in a different setting. She had a nice rapport with Bowler, but Lohan’s on-screen comeback should’ve been a comedy instead of an underdeveloped drama. Let’s hope that she’ll choose wisely for her next film project.
“Liz & Dick” premiered on November 25th at 9:00 p.m on Lifetime. Check your local listings for additional airings.
Verdict: A Hollywood love story that should’ve been given its proper due, or at the very least a better cast Elizabeth Taylor.
TV Movie Score: 1 out of 5 stars
1 Star (Mediocre)
2 Stars (Averagely Entertaining)
3 Stars (Decent Enough to Pass Muster)
4 Stars (Near Perfect)
5 Stars (Gold Standard)