A desultory melodrama of troubled youth on the loose, LILY WAS HERE occurs in bleakly photographed urban Holland, where 17-year-old Lily (Marion Van Thijn) holds a dreary job at a checkout counter and barely tolerates her loveless home and lustful stepfather.
Her hopes center on her boyfriend Alan (Dennis Rudge), an American serviceman from a nearby Air Force base. He promised to bring her to the US but gets killed by thugs (he's Black of course; it's depressing that even foreign films mark minority characters as disposable lambs-to-the-slaughter).
Lily is now pregnant and out of options. Determined to keep her baby, she runs away from home and comes under the sponsorship of Ted (Coen Van Vrijburghe DeConingh), a pimp who installs her in an apartment building as a specialty prostitute; she gives hand jobs to perverts turned on by pregnant,
A few months of this is all Lily can take. Moving to an expensive hotel, she pays the bills via armed robberies using an unloaded gun. She also starts a guarded love affair with Ted's good-hearted henchman Arend (Thom Hoffman). The police meanwhile, serious underachievers, take a long time
tracking down the high-profile, distinctively tattooed, juvenile mom-to-be who's been a solo crime wave. Only after Lily gives birth do cops converge on the maternity ward. A sympathetic midwife, Connyr (Monique Van De Ven), has been looking after Lily's obstetric needs while shielding her from
justice, and if you think that's liberalism run rampant, get a load of the climax when Lily, the newborn in her arms, strides confidently to freedom, right past an impassive chief inspector; Arend evidently had a heart-to-heart talk with the officer beforehand and got the girl instant amnesty.
Lily's walk on the wild side, neither sensationalized nor overly condemned, demonstrates how the heroine's headstrong determination enables her to have the child and survive the mean streets. But serious passion and sentiment rarely stir director Ben Verbong's screenplay. Lily's plight earns
sympathy but only superficial interest, turning to mild annoyance late in the picture when she spouts a couple of lines that alternately glorify and bemoan her criminal acts. Arend properly gets fed up with the girl on more than one occasion, and at the heart of his inarticulate admonitions lie
memories of another wayward hooker he loved, now deceased. But his character is hardly more than scenery; Lily is the focus of the picture, and while the sulkily attractive Van Thijn holds attention, her pouty defiance makes for a generally one-note performance. (Marion Van Thijn is in real life
the daughter of Amsterdam's present mayor Eduard Van Thijn, which puts a whole different spin on why the law lets Lily off scot free.)
Whether it was the moody acoustic soundtrack by former Eurythmics member David Stewart or alienated-youth appeal, LILY WAS HERE became popular with underaged Dutch viewers. It even showed up on home video in the US in 1992, its box art suspiciously resembling that of the better-known Eurothriller
LA FEMME NIKITA. (Violence, profanity, sexual situations, adult situations, nudity.)
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- Released: 1992
- Rating: R
- Review: A desultory melodrama of troubled youth on the loose, LILY WAS HERE occurs in bleakly photographed urban Holland, where 17-year-old Lily (Marion Van Thijn) holds a dreary job at a checkout counter and barely tolerates her loveless home and lustful stepfath… (more)