Lucy Liu at 41

Viewed Watching the Detectives (2007) the other night – light romantic comedy starring Cillian Murphy and Lucy Liu. Cillian is 33 but in the movie he’s playing a younger guy, or so it seemed to me. He has a baby face, so that works ok. Back in the days of Dobie Gillis, Dwayne Hickman and Bob Denver were in their late 20s playing high-school students; Dustin Hoffman was 30 when The Graduate was released (and Mrs. Robinson was 39).

Lucy Liu, on the other hand, is 41. She can pass for younger and she’s playing a Murphy contemporary in the movie, and I’d watch her in anything anyway cause I’ve got a little Lucy Liu jones going , but having said that, it cannot be denied that life is beginning to leave a few signs of road wear on the Liu corpus. The camera is good to her, but, oops, a quick shot of her hands… The hands go first. I read somewhere that the hands go last, but not so. The hands and the neck, they’re like tree rings on a human stump (and speaking of stumps, when the hands and the neck go, the muscles of the buttocks are not far behind)… Also a flash or two here and there in the movie of Lucy looking like her mother.

Here, a few words on the subject of female stars past 40. The thing is, in “Watching the Detectives,” Lucy is playing a lovable, or not so lovable, wacky lover of life, hyper, unattached, no doubt because of her deeply neurotic behavior. Cillian, the watcher of TV, of movies, is her antithesis. They meet cute. Mortal opposites instantly attracted. Each pulling the other toward the center while the centrifugal force of their behavior and personalities tends to send them spinning away from each other. What will happen? Will they, can they, end up together, these two? Only, if we take Lucy as a woman in her 40s, she isn’t zany, she’s nuts.

(And by the way, how is it that English, Irish, Australian, and New Zelandish actors do American accents so well? No hint of Cork in Murphy’s work here.)

Or am I crazy about this age thing? It’s called acting, isn’t it? If Lucy gets a gig in which she is required to act young and kooky, a gig’s a gig, isn’t it? If Mimi Rogers is called upon to play a thirty-something in Storm Cell when she is in fact 53, who is Mimi to say no? Who is Mimi to turn down the Rita Fiori role in Jesse Stone: Stone Cold in spite of the fact that Rita is supposed to be a spectacular show-stopping babe?

Just to be clear, I have no problem with movie romances in which older women hook up with younger men, no more than with the opposite. But it’s a shame if Lucy had to take the role of a giddy twenty-something just to get work. (Same with Cillian Murphy but not so bad. In fact, I thought Paul Rudd (40) seemed a little old for his role in I Love You Man.)

“Watching the Detectives,” by the way, is not a good movie.

No, wait. Just caught the last five minutes and came away feeling ok with the film. Lucy’s character has been burned and burned again in the backstory; she’s desperate. Delivers a little monolog at the end which on one level could be taken as the desperate cry for love of a 40-something willing to go to any lengths to reel in this B-level dude.

Visit MRQE for a list of reviews explaining in detail why the movie sucks. I’m giving it a pass.

I’ve often stared at the list of movie credits in IMDB for stars that are familiar to me, but whose credits include movie after movie that I’ve never heard of. In the case of LL, I’m proud to say that I was there for Play It To The Bone, City of Industry, Ballistic, Cypher, so forth.  This would be one of the movies in a list like that. I’m guessing that Cillian and Lucy will thank you for not watching it. Maybe they’re both Broken Lizard fans.

Final question: Lucy has modeled. Throughout this movie she is garbed to look good. So in the final scene she’s in a nifty little green flowered Spring number with a scoop back that reveals her bra strap. A style statement or what? Please explain.