The Canyons (2013) Review


PLOT: When Christian, an LA trust-fund kid with casual ties to Hollywood, learns of a secret affair between Tara and the lead of his film project, Ryan, he spirals out of control, and his cruel mind games escalate into an act of bloody violence.

I got to start off by saying that wow, audiences and critics were extremely split on this movie. They either liked it somewhat, or really really hated it. And I can see where all sides are coming from: while I did not hate it, I thought it was a good, underrated movie, I definitely see some of the criticism because boy this movie was also a mess.


The screenplay was an original work by author Bret Easton Ellis, whom admittedly I have never read much of before so his style of writing was new to me. While I have seen Mary Haron’s chilling adaptation of his novel ‘American Psycho’, I have never really attempted to read much of his work yet. Not sure why however, as he is a bit of an eccentric writer from what I can gather from watching this, and I love eccentricity. Right from the start the story was interesting, and if it would’ve stayed that way for the entire running time I would have given this movie a better review. There are scenes to this movie that go blazing fast, and others that sort of just drag on forever; especially during the middle of the movie. The dialogue was pretty straightforward, decently written and not too annoying. The characters were decent, but at times were so obviously cliched that it just stuck right out there. There were many moments of unpredictability, and there were also moments were I could see the scenes or the character’s dialogue coming from miles away. All in all, an interesting story with a halfway decent, halfway flawed-to-hell screenplay.


Perhaps for me the best part of the entire film was Lindsay Lohan’s performance, and I am quite surprised to say that. That not having anything to do with her bouts with the law, I wish her the best, but because I was so displeased with her performance as Elizabeth Taylor in “Liz and Dick”. Perhaps if she were maybe 15 years older she would be wonderful as Liz. But her performance as Tara was absolutely stunning, surprising to say the least, and probably the main reason to see this movie. James Deen, in his first role aside from pornography, did quite nicely as the very devious Christian, as did Nolan Funk as Ryan, and the cast also featured a nice surprise performance by one of my favorite directors of all time, Gus Van Sant, as Dr Campbell. But as I’ve said, Lindsay is the true star of this movie.


And of course the other reason for watching this movie would be the always stylish, ultra-cool direction from Paul Schrader, who is another one of my absolute favorite filmmakers. Far from his best film, The Canyons still manages to be very stylish, and had wonderful cinematography. Not to mention a very dense, haunting original score featuring Dum Dum Girls, A Place To Bury Strangers, and compositions by Brandon Canning.


In conclusion, ‘The Canyons’ has an interesting story, and it is quite an underrated movie in my opinion, but it is also a mess. Predictable dialogue and a few ridiculous plot points, not to mention some scenes that drag on for what seems like forever mar this film from being great, however Paul Schrader’s excellent noir-styled direction and Lindsay Lohan’s stunning performance made this film way better than the disaster it could’ve been. It’s impossible to recommend this movie highly, but it is worth at least one viewing.


Thanks For Reading



2 thoughts on “The Canyons (2013) Review

  1. CMrok93 says:

    Where both Ellis and Schrader are trying to get at with this material, is obvious and seems to work in spots, but when you take that out to a whole, hour-and-a-half, it feels repetitive and too dull for it’s own good. However, as I said, it does shine in spots and kept me relatively interested. Good review.

    • I think if Ellis were to have spent more time on developing the story and cut maybe 5 minutes off of the running-time it would’ve been much more coherent. Thanks for commenting.

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