Put Melanie Lynskey in a silly comedy & we’re in. At least, mostly in. Halfway?
If we can fast-forward through all non-Lynskey scenes next time around, then we’re definitely in. Otherwise, bring on I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore 2 because (spoiler)…this week’s pick is not it.
Lady of the Manor
Christian & Justin Long
When she gets a job as a tour guide in a historic manor, laid-back slacker Hannah begins receiving unsolicited advice from the ghost of a murdered Southern belle.
Following an argument over the inheritance of her property, Southern belle Lady Wadsworth meets with an unfortunate accident in the mid-1800s. Surprise/not really a surprise, the obvious suspect in her not-so-accidental death is her husband. As a Southern gentleman, everyone basically takes him at his word that Lady Wadsworth tripped and fell because patriarchy/misogyny/sexism.
Years later, couch potato Hannah lounges about watching true crime until she’s reluctantly called to do her job. Her work? Delivering drugs on behalf of a startup-type company in Georgia. We’re talking weed & gummies here, but even so…I’m pretty sure Georgia is among the states unfriendly to recreational marijuana. A little strange then that Hannah doesn’t even attempt to text in code about the nature of her activities.
In a comedic(?) scene that’s just kind of uncomfortable & full of awkward jokes about underage sex, Hannah is busted by an undercover cop, charged with drug violations and solicitation of a minor. Though her boyfriend helps negotiate a plea deal for Hannah’s release, he breaks up with her, leaving her with no income and nowhere to go.
Enter conveniently timed bar sleaze Tanner Wadsworth, entitled Wadsworth descendant. After firing the previous tour guide of the manor, Tanner hires Hannah immediately. Of course, Hannah has zero interest in history; instead of remembering accurate details, she invents stories for her tour groups. This works surprisingly well until a history professor with a PhD from Harvard interrupts a tour, upset with the invented truths. Because this film can’t pick a genre, misunderstanding yields to a connection pretty lacking in chemistry.
Wasting her time with walking red flag Tanner, Hannah is interrupted one evening by the ghost of Lady Wadsworth. Not really clear why Lady W chooses this particular moment to appear except for comic effect. Also not really clear why she chooses to appear at all; you’d think she’d be motivated by revenge or seeing her will carried out as intended. Instead, she decides to haunt Hannah for…not being particularly ladylike by 19th-century standards. Rather conveniently, Lady W is not at all racist and has a Black friend to prove it. Btw, a Black “friend” who was her maid, and we never get into any discussion of whether or not she was an enslaved friend.
Anyway. Even though Max, the disgruntled history professor, studies history, Hannah consults with him on the occult. Convenient plot device is rather pointless as Lady W ultimately just tells Hannah what it will take for her to stop haunting the manor.
But as she gets to know Lady W and her story, will Hannah begin to seek out the truth behind her new friend’s demise?
2.5/5 Pink Panther Heads
Because of Melanie Lynskey’s involvement with this film, I cannot possibly justify a lower rating than that of Llamageddon. Our girl ML is as charming as ever. However, I will say that amount of enjoyment per dollar falls squarely in the llama’s court. The cast & production values are significantly better, but the level of script coherence for a greenlit film is infuriating. Worse–the humor almost never lands in a COMEDY movie.
For a film that’s supposed to be silly fun, I got bored. I couldn’t at all understand what the film was going for; the rom-com element didn’t work for me at all, the buddy comedy piece fell flat, and the history’s wrongs being set right theme wasn’t particularly well done. For real, we’re going to set a film in Civil War-era Georgia and just ignore slavery? I get that this was a comedy, but Lady W would’ve come back spouting way more racist nonsense than she did here. It’s odd to me as well that Hannah was the character who needed to swoop in and solve the mystery of Lady W’s death. She didn’t have any emotional connection to the murder, and things get uncomfortably white savior-y.
Also, genuine points of confusion: was Lady W somehow a member of the aristocracy? Because being rich and from the South does not magically mean you have a title. And, btw, one of the “skills” of being a lady according to Lady W is making bread…? I don’t believe a woman in her position would have ever set foot in the kitchen except to yell at people. And legitimately, THIS is how you’d choose to spend your ghostly afterlife???
I do appreciate that Melanie Lynskey apparently accepted this role for the prospective of lounging around and acting high for the entire film. There are worse motivations, honestly.