20 July 2002 | Victor Field
"I see a girl... who looks like a pearl." The movie's quite appealing as well.
This may have come about under the aegis of Oprah Winfrey, but don't let that put you off; "David and Lisa" is far more watchable than her self-titled opus. (Another British viewer complained that She Who Thinks She's God appears in an intro before the movie starts; this is the case on video and on its US screenings, but I watched the movie on BBC2 and her appearance was removed, for which much thanks. Less justifiably, the Harpo logo was also absent - I don't like Oprah, but I like end credits.)
Though Sidney Poitier is top-billed, Lukas Haas is the real star of the movie; he plays an articulate and intelligent young man who's very disturbed - he suffers from a recurring nightmare involving "clock executions," and has a severe phobia about being touched, all of which accounts for his widowed mother (Allison Janney from "The West Wing") sending him to a special institution.
This movie is basically a love story, and the object of his affections - though it takes him a while to realise it - is a fellow patient played by Brittany Murphy (anyone seeing this after "Girl, Interrupted" and "Don't Say A Word" will probably not be surprised). Given to speaking in rhyme to make her internal demons go away, his interest is at first clinical, but eventually...
Compared to "The Bell Jar" (the book, that is - I haven't seen the movie version), this isn't particularly wrenching, but it isn't meant to be. Blessedly non-sick-making, sensitively told and generally well-performed (some of the freakouts may seem overacted, but how far is too far in cases like this?), "David and Lisa" is an involving story right up to its final scene - there's no real miracle cure, instead a suggestion that they're heading in the right direction. (And unusually for a love story, the two never kiss.)
And to the person who complained about Marco Beltrami's music; in addition to being above-average for TV, it must have been a refreshing change for him to score a movie not about serial killings. Fans of him (and Haas and Murphy) should tune in.