An Evening with Beverly Luff Lin takes place in a distorted fairground of a dead-end town in the middle of an unspecified country. A mysterious man marches into town with an intriguing performance in the local Scottish themed hotel, and Lulu Danger – trapped in an unhappy marriage – decides to run away to see the performance.
From the opening shot, Aubrey Plaza as Lulu lying upside down on the bed, mascara running down her cheeks as she smokes a cigarette as thumping, uneasy synth moves in the background you know that Jim Hosking’s latest creation is going to be unlike anything you’ve ever seen before.
It’s also a hard film to explain without spoiling huge amounts of the plot – and if I’m honest most of my notes are based around prop and costume details – but I’ll try my best. Along with Colin (Jermaine Clement), the unlucky and perpetually downbeat would be knee-capper, Lulu waits in anticipation for An Magical Evening With Beverly Luff Linn (Craig Robinson) in a hotel which can only be described as tartan-goth. Her husband Shane Danger – a psychopath in a cheap blonde wig – attempts to get back the fur-covered cashbox that he stole from Lulu’s brother. Colin is simply trying to win over Lulu and Beverly Luff Linn stalks the halls, grunting musically in the way of speech.
An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn has an almost Anderson-esqe aesthetic, that is to say that there is a pervading sense of the uncanny that seeps throughout ever frame of the film. The 70s hair and decorative choices, combined with the clashing colours of Lulu’s outfits – the pink fur jacket and yellow leather skirt is a personal favourite – and the unnatural dialogue makes it clear that this is a time and place where anything can and does happen.
Aubrey Plaza carries the role of Lulu with ease, yet again cementing her place as an actress who is unafraid to take on different and challenging roles – see her in Ingrid Goes West for another stunning example of her chameleon-like ability to inhabit any role. Her relationship with Colin – the ultimate odd-couple road trip – unfolds slowly and awkwardly as the film progresses. Lulu is both spiky and vulnerable, all with a cigarette in hand and a withering glance.
The rest of the cast – Robinson, who manages to convey a surprising amount with a script containing mostly of “hhhhmmmmms”, Clement who is perfect as the hopeless Colin, Matt Berry as Rodney, the ever-suffering and jealous right hand man to Luff Lin – are all fantastic. In a film that could easily fall flat through lacklustre performances, they all shine.
As mentioned in The Favourite review, it’s also heartening to see institutions like Film Four and the BFI throwing their weight and support behind these inventive and unique films. Long may it continue.
For now, watch An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn and let yourself escape to a world where men look like reanimated waxwork figures and the phrase “cinnamon… bullshit” is a perfectly acceptable sentence.
An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn is on Netflix UK now.