R | 94 min | Drama, Thriller
Review - Matt Mungle
**In theaters and on demand on July 17, 2015**
Synopsis: A tense and exciting film, LILA AND EVE is directed by Charles Stone III (DRUMLINE), and tells the story of Lila (Academy AwardÆ Nominee Viola Davis), a grief-stricken mother who in the aftermath of her sonís murder in a drive-by shooting attends a support group where she meets Eve (Jennifer Lopez), who has lost her daughter. When Lila hits numerous roadblocks from the police in bringing justice for her sonís slaying, Eve urges Lila to take matters into her own hands to track down her sonís killers. The two women soon embark on a violent pursuit of justice, as they work to the top of the chain of drug dealers to avenge the murder of Lilaís son.
Review: If there was ever a doubt in your mind about Viola Davis being one of the most talented dramatic actresses in the biz today; this will wipe it away for good. The movie instantly invites us into her world as we find her grieving the loss of her son to a senseless murder. From the first scene she will cause you to breath a bit shallower as you are impacted with the intensity of her pain and anger.
We have not seen a solid vigilante film since the days of Eastwood or Charles Bronson in the Death Wish days of the 1970's. We certainly have not seen a female driven story with this much grit and streetwise swagger. You combine the ferocious passion of a mother's love with the determined focus of an actress like Davis and you get a powerful reaction.
Even Lopez steps out of the glittering lights of American Idol to get her hands and mouth dirty for this one. You easily forget that her soft spoken pretty roles in Maid in Manhattan, The Wedding Planner, and Monster-in-Law. Here she revisits roles like Slim Hiller in Enough to show us the tenacity of a tough girl. Eve is the catalyst that drives Lila to take action. She also lost a child and that drives her to support Lila in this course.
The story also shows the good and bad side of police investigations. You can understand the frustration as Lila encounters one closed door after another. The feeling that the victims are numbers and not real people comes through clearly. At the same time you see it from the side of the investigator, here played by Shea Whigham, as they have to follow procedure and try their best to uncover new evidence. It is this slow process that causes Lila and Eve to find swifter means of justice.
Questions also are raised in the film, maybe not forthright but subliminally, about at what point is justice a crime. We see Lila more than Eve struggle with this. As a viewer go back and forth about the issues. That is the mark of strong writing. LILA & EVE is rated R for violence and language, It is a strong adult film but the content is neither gratuitous or placating. It is there to show you the world these three women and their children live. I give it 4 out of 5 rounds. Lopez and Davis are a powerful on screen duo and give tremendous force to their characters.