A storm rages. A young girl is kidnapped. Her mother (Jurnee Smollett) teams up with the mysterious woman next door (Allison Janney) to pursue the kidnapper – a journey that tests their limits and exposes shocking secrets from their pasts.
That’s the logline for the latest Netflix movie that incorporates a talented cast in an action-thriller scenario.
Most of us would follow Janney anywhere, and Smollett is gaining a similar group of fans. So, does that make Lou a movie worth watching?
From the outside, it looks like Hannah (Smollett) and Lou (Janney) have little more in common than residing on the same plot of land.
Hannah is a caring mother, doting on her daughter Vee. Lou is a survivalist whose closest pal is a dog, which, admittedly, she dotes on as much as Hannah does Vee.
Both women have fled their previous lives, finding a fresh start far away from the daily grind. But when Hannah’s ex, Vee’s father, grabs their daughter and takes off into the great unknown, Hannah and Lou discover they have a lot more in common than previously expressed.
Netflix does a lot of these movies where otherwise dramatic (or comedic) actors get down and dirty, having a ball in a sphere a little outside of their bailiwick.
Smollett isn’t a complete unknown to adventurous roles, with both The Underground and Lovecraft Country on her resume.
It’s hard to find something similar on Janney’s resume, as it’s her signature wit that usually lands her some of her best roles.
But the Lou shoot finds them both out in the weather, beaten down by rain and mud, and it’s really fun watching them get their hands (and everything else) dirty for the sake of the story.
Janney is surprisingly adept as the secretive Lou, who hopes that finding Vee will not reveal the darkest sides of herself.
As you can guess, Lou will be drawn further into Hannah’s orbit as they battle for Vee’s return, which will mean outsmarting Phillip (Logan Marshall-Green), a former Green Beret with a criminal past.
This flick rests entirely on the believably of Janney as the reluctant hero with an arsenal of survival skills, and she succeeds beautifully.
Although it’s certainly not a buddy film, Lou and Hannah emerge as fighters willing to accept and respect one another, doing so without compromise to save Vee.
The film is gorgeous to watch, with the wet, overgrown wooded scenery becoming its own character. It’s not something to conquer but to accept and use to its advantage.
Plenty of secrets nestled in the screenplay by Maggie Cohn and Jack Stanley will keep the audience guessing.
Each layer of the story adds to what’s come before and doesn’t feel frivolous.
Much of that comes from how the story is devised, with two capable women taking this journey together. There’s not a lot of room for others, although Marshall-Green gets a dramatic arc of his own.
Matt Craven’s Sheriff Rankin doesn’t have much to do, but he’s an honest lawman with everyone’s best interests at heart.
Director Anna Foerster is clearly having fun with the production. You can just look at the production stills to see what’s transpired. The finished product doesn’t disappoint; it’s not just pretty pictures.
Lou makes the most of its cast, setting, and script for a highly entertaining action adventure, so grab your popcorn and enjoy the flick!
Lou premieres on Netflix on Friday, September 23.
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She’s a member of the Critic’s Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.