PEOPLE GET CUT, THAT’S LIFE
If Lindsay Lohan is not and has never been two women sensu stricto, we might be forgiven for believing something different; twice now she has split herself onscreen, and twice the overall effect was of exactly what it was: one girl refracted, even though there were two names, two sets of clothes, two miens. The first time was aged ten, for Disney: in the credits of The Parent Trap (1998) she’s introduced with fireworks, as if to signal or foreshadow later sound and fury. Lindsay split herself the second time to demonstrate that, contrary to popular opinion—Lindsay is, above all things, contrary—she had never wanted to belong to any Mickey Mouse Club that would have her as a member. She split like an atom going nuclear, a middle and an index finger making “fuck you”: split cells generating some disease, some mean internal warfare.
Lindsay played her second set of twins in Chris Sivertson’s sleazy, cultish flop I Know Who Killed Me (2007), filmed ten years ago last summer: one called Aubrey Fleming, who wears glasses and loves writing bad, short fiction about bad, lost women, and is skilled at playing the piano; and another called Dakota Moss, a foul-mouthed stripper. (It would be a waste of space for me to tell you which one Lindsay plays more convincingly—a prodigy in early life, the only thing she is a dedicated student of these days is chaos. She remains contrary. Stripping in the movie, she keeps on her bright red lingerie, but splits her legs like those two fingers: fuck me and fuck you.) Good-girl Aubrey is abducted by a small-town killer whose inventiveness with dry ice is the movie’s one surprise, and whose sick obsession is with women’s hands, and women’s feet, and amputating women’s limbs in general. When she is discovered half dead, sprawling in a ditch, she claims she isn’t Aubrey but Dakota. Alternating every word with “fuck,” she says that she’s a crackhead’s baby, and her crackhead mother “ODed, duh.”
The hospital cries trauma when they ought to cry film cliché. I have not said—I should certainly have said—that Aubrey-who-is-actually-Dakota gets two robot limbs, an arm and leg, and that the leg is battery-operated; and that Aubrey-who-is-actually-Dakota sometimes does not charge the leg, so that it drags beneath her hot-pants like dead weight, utterly grotesque but not that interesting. (Even in a sex scene, it just lies there. Lindsay, to her credit, absolutely does not.) Evidently dedicated to the films of David Lynch but woefully unskilled, the writer-director of I Know Who Killed Me conjures red rooms and blue roses and the guidance of a group of owls; a pet cat that is hairless, but with grape-sized testicles on show; a man whose only purpose is to masturbate a log; a serial killer who makes weapons out of ice-blue glass, and so on. What he has forgotten is to put the “psych” in “psychosexual mystery,” so that what’s mysterious isn’t necessarily that smart. The owls, here, are exactly what they seem. The girl is too—a dead-split representative of sex and scholarship, of vice and virtue, even if she is in fact two women and not one girl.
Even greater than the crime of serially killing women with your own invented instruments in some low-rate production meant to ape—in my opinion—our most singular and talented auteur, is being our most singular and talented auteur, and not adoring Lindsay Lohan. It’s not casting her in Twin Peaks: The Return (2017) when she so clearly needs returning to an audience that might accept her. Lindsay’s psycho, sexual, and a mystery. She is one of modern Hollywood’s great beauties, hoarse and charismatic and a little frightening. Lynch would do well to remember that although blondes à la Hitchcock show up blood like snow, a redhead would look sick, disorienting, in a red room. Lohan is one of those high-femme doubles he has loved for so long, one half fatale and one half a fatality. She is a pair entrapped in one girl. Who is the girl?
THIS IS THE GIRL
As a figure, Lindsay—like Lynch—deals in moral conflict: in the evil or the sexually freaky deep inside the safe, banal and quintessentially American. “The first child of a drug-abusing, felonious stock trader and a failed dancer” per the New York Times Magazine, it stands to reason that the sum of drugs plus fame plus capitalism plus failure would embody something wild at heart, and weird on top. At twenty years of age, a case in point: in Garry Marshall’s Georgia Rule (2007), while in the role of a girl who’s abused by her stepfather, Lindsay is painfully, bloodily Lindsay—she acts out, snarls and then threatens to fuck everybody, baring both a stripper’s abdominals and the sulky, freckled face of a preteen girl. (“Lindsay is, above all things, contrary.”)
Choosing to identify her by her work in Mean Girls (2004) or The Parent Trap feels these days like a false equivalence, as Lindsay being pre-sensual, or virginal, is like most people being pre-verbal. Lindsay’s sensuality, her body language, is in fact her primary language: it’s her favored mode of mass communication, to the degree that her voice even sounds like body language. Lindsay’s voice sounds just like Lindsay Lohan’s chest, her throat, her fingers clamped around a cigarette, her lazy walk. Her way of sitting, loose and low, interminably bored. Her pelvis. It sounds just like Lindsay Lohan with her legs extended from the window of an older man’s convertible in Georgia Rule. It has the very particular hoarseness that you get from whispering so as not to be discovered, or from screaming—crying out in fear or ecstasy, or in excitement.