There are any number of good reasons to want to see the film Lila Says: it concerns itself with the ghetto dwellers of Marseille and provides a glimpse into the grim dead-end life that most young Arabic men who live there can expect to lead. It features music by Nitin Sawhney. It is directed by a promising young Arabic director and beautifully shot. It is Based on a True Story.
There is only one real reason to see Lila Says, and her name is Vahina Giocante. She plays Lila, the most beautiful cipher and plot device a film could want.
It's all about Lila--the angelic, foul-mouthed catalyst--and the fascination she holds for young Chimo, whose white teacher and supportive mother believe he has the talent to write himself out of Marseille and into a prestigious program in Paris. All he needs to do is submit a 30-page writing sample.
But what about? His pathological best friend Mouloud? Nah. Why bother with gritty realism when a beautiful blonde Polish emigre has bicycled into the neighborhood and invited the sensitive young writer to take a peek at "mon chat" as she pumps her legs and sails ever higher on a playground swing?
The camera shares Chimo's fascination with Lila, and it is just as willing to believe the pornographic fantasies that come pouring out of that rosebud pout. Unfortunately, sociopathic Mouloud is also willing to believe the worst of Lila and takes her provocations at face value, which leads, slowly, inexorably, to Tragedy-with-a-capital-T.
Chimo, heartbroken, pours his grief into his story and ultimately leaves the ghetto for Paris. And it is his story, because the film ends with us knowing no more about Lila than we did when it began, save that she, too, is forever changed for having known Chimo, having been brutally gang raped by his friends. And they don't seem to hand out scholarships for that.