lost and delirious directed by Léa Pool, written by Judith Thompson, based on the novel The Wives Of Bath, by Susan Swan, produced by Lorraine Richard, Greg Dummett and Louis-Philippe Rochon, with Piper Perabo, Jessica Paré, Mischa Barton, Jackie Burroughs and Graham Greene. 95 minutes. Opens Friday (July 27). For venues and times, see First-Run Movies, page 89. Rating: NNN
lost and delirious director léa Pool's job is to ensure that this tale of lesbian boarding-school love doesn't insult dykes, titillate horny straight men or simply bore audiences. Not an easy task. Pool (Emporte-moi, Anne Trister), a Swiss-born filmmaker who immigrated to Canada 25 years ago, came on board to direct Judith Thompson's adaptation of Susan Swan's novel The Wives Of Bath. The media has made much of the fact that three talented, strong-minded women worked together to pull off the project, which in its final cinematic form hardly resembles Swan's original novel.
"At first I was being really respectful of Judith's work, but after a few weeks on the set I had to make the film my own," says Pool during a recent interview in Toronto. "Even now when talking about the film, knowing we were three women who made it, I talk as if it's my film. I'm sure Susan talks as if it's hers, and the same with Judith.
"For me, it was important that I not direct the movie like a wise adult looking at these poor adolescents who are in love and can't control their emotions. I wanted to go with them, which meant taking some risks, just as the three actors took risks. It meant pushing the envelope, making this film different from any other girls' boarding-school drama."
Yet the film is less risky than the novel. No longer is the story set in the early 60s and focused on a disturbed teenage girl dealing with transsexual issues. Instead, it's set in the present, where the love between two schoolmates (played by Piper Perabo and Jessica Paré) is threatened by one girl's terror of being labelled gay by her family and friends.
"People are still not that open to seeing a story about two women in love, and if you show one of them becoming a psycho, you're not helping society," says Pool. "When society doesn't accept something, it can be very difficult for love to exist. This relationship could just as easily have been threatened by race or class issues as by homophobia. How they fight for this love is the issue. In the book, it's OK to allow one of the girls to go crazy, but it doesn't work in a film -- you'd lose the audience halfway through."
Lost And Delirious is Pool's seventh feature film, but it's her first in English. With the international success of 1999's Emporte-moi and now a film in English, she has caught the attention of production companies looking for a director-for-hire.
"This is a good period for me, since people want me to direct," says Pool. "For the first time I have offers to work in English as well as French, which doubles my offers. It's all working out. I adopted a little girl who's now five and half years old and I'm raising her alone, so it's very difficult for me to concentrate and write for myself for at least a few more years.
"And to be honest, I've never been able to keep money, and since I've got a child to support and I'm not so very young, I think I have to make money while I can."