DEAR LEMON LIMA Review
Dear Lemon Lima is a movie in the “Narrative Competition” at the 2009 Los Angeles Film Festival. It follows the story of Vanessa Lemor, a 13 year old girl living in Alaska who discovers her Yup’ik heritage while competing in her school’s Snowstorm Survivor competition, along with her group of eccentric friends.
The movie stars with Vanessa (Savanah Wiltfong) being dumped by her boyfriend, Philip. To Vanessa it seems like the end of the world. With a wall in her room plastered of pictures of Philip, she decides to win him back. Unfortunately, things get complicated when Philip, having spent the summer in France, suddenly becomes popular. Vanessa on the other end is quite the outsider and pretty peculiar. But that won’t stop her. Vanessa meets the people who will become her new team when she is sent to the weight room (or really what I would call the “reject room”). They include Samantha (Vanessa Marano), a pathological liar, Nothing (formally called Madeline), the heiress to a funeral parlor chain, and Hercules, a nice but awkward boy with very strict and overprotective parents. They name themselves the “FUBAR,” which means “Fucked Up Beyond All Recognition.” Together they will fight against the odds to win it all.
When I went to see Dear Lemon Lima, I didn’t know anything about it. I had seen the trailer, but had forgotten most of it. So I didn’t really know what I was getting into when the movie started and I have to say that it turned out to be quite a nice surprise.
I’m a movie lover and the reason I love going to festivals is because I get to see lots of them, as well as discover some that I would have never seen before. Not every movie has to be life-changing, all they can make me laugh, cry, want to get in my car and drive like a maniac on the freeway, or simply make me smile.
Dear Lemon Lima did exactly that, it put a smile on my face.
Why? Because it’s simple, sweet and an original look at what a first love feels like when you’re 13. The director, Suzi Yoonessi, was able to capture the “end of the world” feeling that Vanessa experiences when Philip breaks up with her. What’s even better we as the audience realize what a douche Philip really is, but it seems that Vanessa cannot see it.
The movie takes Vanessa on a journey to discover new friendship, her Yup’ik roots, and that there is still life after a break up. The friendship between the characters is what ties the movie together and I think it will touch people’s hearts. Dear Lemon Lima also uses some beautiful colors and drawings that illustrates the character’s feelings, which I found very endearing.
I also have to mention that Melissa Leo, who was nominated for an Oscar for her work on Frozen River, and Beth Grant, whom you might remember from Little Miss Sunshine and Donnie Darko, both appear in the movie. Melissa Leo plays Hercules’ mother, and I swear I did not realize it was the same actress from Frozen River. Melissa Leo morphed both physically and emotionally into this totally new character, it’s quite impressive. As for Beth Grant, she plays the very strange but almost loveable Principal Applebomb, and I just loved watching her scenes.
Dear Lemon Lima might not be the best movie you will ever see, but it will leave you smiling and feeling good if nothing else. Even as I am writing this, I am remembering all the wonderful scenes from it which puts a smile on my face.
So if you will be attending the LA Film Festival this year, you might want to give it a shot.