There are movies that lend themselves to the elements and take advantage of them to their benefit. Then there are movies that ignore what the story lays out for them and try to become something they really aren’t. Unfortunately, in this situation, Michelle Savill’s feature debut Millie Lies Low falls into the latter. The movie lends itself to be one of those gut-punching comedies with a side of dramatic flair but leans so heavily into the drama that the audience will lose any form of connection or care with the characters. When characters make bad, irrational decisions, one after another, the film tends to be comedic, but when the comedy isn’t there, these decisions just create a frustrating experience.
Millie Lies Low focuses on the titular character, Millie (Ana Scotney), as she has been awarded a full internship for architecture and travels from Wellington to New York City for it. She has said goodbye to her family and friends and is anxiously waiting on the plane for departure until she has a full-blown panic attack and deboards the plane. After calming down and collecting herself, she inquires about getting a credit for another flight due to her medical emergency, but the airline doesn’t deem her situation as a real medical issue. With a lack of funds, no flight, and more anxiety than she knows how to handle, Millie does the unthinkable. She figures if she lays low, she can pretend she’s in NYC and no one would be the wiser until she can find a way to get another flight. While this situation can typically lead to slapstick humour or observational humour, the antics, at first, are humorous, but then become more dramatic as situations unfold and there is just a fundamental lack of empathy for the character.
Millie Lies Low falls apart because after making a hard decision caused by an anxiety attack, there is no recourse by Millie to try and make things right. A phone call explaining the situation to her contact in New York could’ve cleared all things up and she could’ve just rebooked the flight a few days later when she had some funds. Talking to some friends and family and gathering a pool of money could’ve solved the issues with Millie as well. However, leaning heavily into the downward spiral of anxiety and poor decisions that follow just provides a story that most people have lived through or live through daily, providing a window into the terrors of anxiety. There is also an underlying understanding of some social commentary whether that be about the homeless or the disenfranchised, but Millie Lies Low doesn’t lean into any of those themes or ideas heavily enough to say anything about those topics. While the groundwork is there, it focuses too heavily on the misadventures of Millie and the consequences of her actions.
The saving grace of Millie Lies Low is the performance from Ana Scotney. She makes the audiences connect with the character and tries to make them sympathize and understand what she is going through. After unearthing some horrible realizations about the life she left behind for New York, it really is easy to understand her emotions and frustration with the entire situation she has now presented herself with. Scotney does absolutely everything she can trying to connect and create the anxiety-ridden world for the audience to connect to, but the disconnect between her performance and the script, unfortunately, outweighs the efforts.
Mille Lies Low is riddled with bad decisions caused by a prompted anxiety attack that ultimately leads audiences to frustration. However, the performance from lead Ana Scotney keeps audiences tuned in until the credits roll. The social commentary sprinkled throughout the film would’ve created a more engaging final product if it weren’t underdeveloped and disjointed.
Screening during the 2022 SXSW Film Festival.
SXSW Screening Information:
*Sunday, March 13th, Screening @ 6:15 pm CT, Alamo Lamar A
*Monday, March 14th, On-line Screening @ 9:00 am CT
*Tuesday, March 15th, Screening @ 11:15 am CT, Alamo Lamar B
*Thursday, March 17th, Screening @ 7:15 pm CT, Violet Crown Cinema 2
*Thursday, March 17th, Screening @ 7:45 pm CT, Violet Crown Cinema 4
Final Score: 2 out of 5.