After Mary (Mischa Barton) lost her mother, saw her father get another partner, and was packed off to boarding school, she thought things couldn't get much worse. On her first day, however, she met Tori (Jessica Paré) who turned out to be her roommate, and was friendly and welcoming; Mary, who called herself Mouse, didn't now feel at home exactly, but she did begin to feel better about the school and her place in it. Soon after she met her other roommate, the intense Paulie (Piper Perabo), but she was just as welcoming - what Mary didn't realise at first was that there was more to Paulie and Tori than being just friends...
This is a film about lesbian teenage schoolgirls, and put those thoughts out of your head right now for while there was the odd item of sauciness, that took up less than a minute of screen time in what was a painfully sincere film. Some kind of sense of humour, not to mention a sense of perspective, would not have gone amiss, but director Léa Pool, here helming her first English language movie, apparently did not wish to go down that route, so that first flush of love was represented as overwhelming, and something for Paulie to hang onto whatever the cost. This resulted in a fair amount of histrionics from Perabo, evidently out to prove her acting chops.
Trouble was, it actually showed up the actress's limitations, as with this script she couldn't make Paulie anything but rather annoying. As with many teenage based plotlines, there has to be a rebel character, and she is the one in this, but as everyone in authority is depicted as utterly nice and reasonable she is left to rail against a society that supposedly does not accept gay relationships. Thus when Tori's sister Alison (Emily VanCamp) bursts into the girls' bedroom to find the couple naked in bed together, Tori suddenly becomes very self-conscious and paranoid about what everyone thinks, much to Paulie's distress.
Tori breaks off the affair, and explains away her ex's behaviour as a simple crush, falling into the arms of a chap from the nearby boys' school. As this is a twist that occurs not even halfway through, you might have expected it to lead to all sorts of intrigue, yet the film thererafter simply marks time with variations on the same scene over and over again. Mary is our narrator, but cannot bring anything of interest to her passive observations, all of which verge on the banal as she gets sidetracked into gardening with Graham Greene (the actor, not the writer), and to add a spot of visual interest Paulie nurses an eagle back to health which then becomes some sort of metaphor for her free spiritedness or something equally daft.
Too often the characters launch into overearnest monologues or ally themselves with classic literature in a poor case of the script's overreaching, as Paulie continues to win Tori back with increasingly unhinged antics, which you will either be watching with grim faced sympathy or more likely be rolling your eyes at as Perabo strains way over the top and eventually becomes embarrassing. For any teenagers struggling with an attraction to the same gender, Lost and Delirious does not exactly paint a positive portrait for them, inadvertently telling them that any such relationships are doomed to end in tragedy - seriously, it could be quite offensive if it was not so patently wrong-headed. If you wanted to wallow in poor me narratives, fine, but if you wanted a far more optimistic rendition of confusing feelings that ended up with a much happier conclusion, then Lukas Moodysson's romance Fucking Amal was an infinitely better choice. Music by Yves Chamberland.