Vivid, episodic and drolly amusing without actually being what you'd call funny, this offbeat chronicle of a drinking life will frustrate some and intrigue others. Disgraced pro golfer Lionel "Ex" Exley (Campbell Scott) bought himself a world of trouble when he tried to bribe his way out of a traffic stop in Arkansas. After 90 days in the slammer, he makes his way home to New Orleans, for no better reason than that he has nowhere else to go. He makes noises about visiting his dad, but never actually gets around to doing it; mostly he drinks, wanders the streets and crosses paths with the eccentrics for whom New Orleans is notorious. Eccentrics like wealthy, seriously suicidal lawyer W. Firmin Carter (Jared Harris), whom Ex runs across in a graveyard, where Firmin is trying none too successfully to consummate an illicit encounter with a prostitute. And out of such chance meetings are new destinies forged: Ex may be living in a downtown flophouse, but at Firmin's side he's part of the hard partying A-list, drifting from trendy bars to soirees at the city's toniest Garden District mansions. And the irony is, Ex went to school with many of the swells with whom he's rubbing elbows; but then he was just the golf-course groundskeeper's son and now he's the minor mystery everyone wants to unravel. Ex takes the country club golfers for a few bucks, falls in with Firmin's drinking buddies Buddha (James R. Hall Jr.) and Pats (Kimo Wills), who's convinced that Dick Clark is the Anti-Christ, and beds brittle socialite sisters Ash (Laurel Holloway) and Rachel "I might have married dumb, but I divorced smart" Van Dyke (Laura Linney). This liquor-lubricated idyll is shattered when Firmin vanishes, shortly after having declared within earshot of several interested parties that he's just changed his will in Ex's favor. First-time writer-director Mark Gibson (who went on to write the deliriously trashy IN CROWD) is clearly less interested in telling a linear story than evoking the dreamy demi-life of hard drinking in convivial surroundings. His New Orleans is so intensely luxuriant (the title encompasses both meanings of the word "lush") that it feels as though you must be seeing it through the bottom of a glass, and his use of music, from Plastic Bertrand's turbo-charged "Ca plane pour moi" to a plaintively raw rendition of the folk song "The House Carpenter," is both apt and evocative.
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- Released: 1999
- Rating: R
- Review: Vivid, episodic and drolly amusing without actually being what you'd call funny, this offbeat chronicle of a drinking life will frustrate some and intrigue others. Disgraced pro golfer Lionel "Ex" Exley (Campbell Scott) bought himself a world of trouble wh… (more)