Larissa Brigatti looks into the future with Andrew Legge’ s debut feature.
Steampunk sci-fi LOLA is the debut feature from Andrew Legge. Set in 1941, this quirky, clever film stars Emma Appleton and Stefanie Martini Martha Hanbury as sisters who built a machine. Calling it LOLA after their mother who passed away, it allows them to tune into British TV and radio frequencies – but from the future.
Initially, the women use LOLA to listen to iconic music: David Bowie, Bob Dylan’s legendary tunes and, of course, the Kinks. However as World War 2 escalates in Europe, the sisters begin to use LOLA to gather intel, which scuppers the Third Reich’s advances and saves the allies from many atrocities of war. With the help of British intelligence they anticipate Germany’s attack strategies and attempt to guide the nation to victory. Yet as they change the course of history, and their enemies start to figure out something is up, things don’t quite play out as the Mars’ sisters hoped. In this new future they’re creating, there is no Bowie anymore… much to the dismay of the sister Mars who adored him deeply, and the outcome of the War starts to head in an unexpected direction.
The movie is presented in black and white and incorporates actual footage of war, old newspapers, true historical events all under an incredible soundtrack partly composed by the Divine Comedy’s Neil Hannon and partly classic hits. The cinematographic choices are avant-garde and experimental. The camera ratio was smaller than the usual, modern 2.35:1 which added to the sense of immersive experience – taking us back to the past, and selling the ‘found footage’ elements of the film.
The sisters themselves were passionate about film, photographs and creating footage of their own lives. They hold their camara and we follow their point of view at times, we see their perspectives of the unfolding events, a great example of creative storytelling. They use 16mm Bolex and Arriflex cameras with period lenses meaning the cinematic aesthetic is thought-provoking and innovative.
The script and journey – the syuzhet – was well thought out and even philosophical in itself. To see these events unfolding through the different time frames, and to watch the perspective of the story being narrated by Mars, the justification of the camera, was equal parts refreshing, unique and captivating. There’s a great deal here to be enjoyed by film appreciators.
The overall structure and pacing is concise, the sci-fi elements incorporated into the documentary format suits the runtime one hour and nineteen minutes. Between the striking visuals and that soundtrack, LOLA is really one to catch on the big screen. This impressive narrative is of such a high standard in what is a pivotal moment in Irish film. Andrew Legge’s distinct authorial voice continues to wow, and one can’t help but look forward to what he does next!
LOLA is in cinemas from 7th April 2023