Taglines: Is she real? …or did he make her up?
A jazz saxophonist loses his capability to play when he is injured in a shooting at a café where he was playing. He sinks into depression when everyone charges in to take care of him, including his ex-wife. However, he discovers a stone with a telephone number attached. Returning the stone, he meets a young aspiring actress who in one of those film coincidences is listening to his music. Soon the two begin an affair which is fouled by his over-obsessiveness with her which costs them both a job at a restaurant.
Lulu on the Bridge is a 1998 American romantic-mystery drama film written and directed by author Paul Auster and starring Harvey Keitel, Mira Sorvino, and Willem Dafoe. The film is about a jazz saxophone player whose life is transformed after being shot. After discovering a mysterious stone, he meets and falls in love with a beautiful aspiring actress, but their happiness is cut short by a series of strange, dreamlike events. The film was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 1998 Cannes Film Festival.
The film premiered in Norway on August 14, 1998, and in France at the Deauville Film Festival on September 6, 1998. The following month the film was released in France, Poland, and Spain. The film was released on DVD in the United States on September 21, 1999.
About the Story
Jazz saxophone player Izzy Maurer (Harvey Keitel) is shot in the chest during a performance at a jazz club by a deranged man. Izzy survives the seven-hour operation, but loses his left lung, ending his music career. A young aspiring actress named Celia Burns (Mira Sorvino) walks into the Chez Pierre restaurant in New York City where she works as a waitress. She and her boss talk about the shooting. Later she purchases Izzy’s latest CD.
Following his recovery, Izzy stays to himself and avoids his friends. Gradually he ventures outside and adapts to his new life. His former girlfriend Hannah (Gina Gershon) invites him to a dinner attended by a retired famous actress, Catherine Moore (Vanessa Redgrave), who is now a successful film director, and her film producer friend, Philip Kleinman (Mandy Patinkin).
For the first time in a long time he has a good time. Catherine is looking for a young actress to play the part of “Lula” in her upcoming film version of Pandora’s Box. Walking home that night Izzy discovers a dead body, finds a bag lying nearby, and rushes home in fear. Later he examines the contents of the bag and finds a small box containing a stone with a red mark. As he examines the stone he hears voices speaking in foreign tongues.
That night, as he lay awake in bed, the stone emits a strange blue light and elevates above the nightstand. The next morning he calls the number written on a napkin he found in the bag and Celia picks up the phone just as she’s listening to Izzy’s CD. He asks to meet, and she invites him over. When he arrives he demands to know what she knows about the dead man, Stanley Mar (Greg Johnson), and the strange rock. He turns out the lights and shows her the rock’s mysterious blue light. Drawn to the rock, Celia touches it and encourages him to touch it too.
“It’s the best thing, it really is. It’s like nothing else,” she says. They feel elated by the experience, which makes them feel more connected to everything around them. He tells her, “The way I feel now, I could spend the rest of my life with you.” After he leaves, Celia runs after him and invites him back to her apartment where they make love. In the coming days, they fall deeply in love. She gets him a job at her restaurant, but when a customer comes on to her, Izzy causes a scene and they both get fired.
Celia is up for a part in Catherine’s film, Pandorah’s Box, and with Izzy’s help and connections, she gets the part of Lulu.[Note 2] Izzy plans to meet Celia in Dublin, where the film is being shot. Shortly after she leaves, Izzy is attacked by men in his apartment demanding to know why he killed Stanley Mar. He is taken away and held prisoner. He meets a mysterious Dr. Van Horn (Willem Dafoe) who tells Izzy how disappointed he is in him. Izzy has no idea what he’s talking about, but Van Horn seems to know details about Izzy’s past—his real name, childhood incidents, and catching fireflies with his brother at their summer house on Echo Lake.
When Van Horn begins to delve into Izzy’s relationships with his father and brother, Izzy responds, “Don’t do this to me.” When reminded that he refused to play music at his father’s funeral, he breaks down in tears. One night, Van Horn storms into Izzy’s cell and tell him, “You’re not worthy. You’ve lived a bad dishonest life.” Having learned about Celia, Van horn now demands that Izzy reveal her whereabouts. Izzy refuses to acknowledge that he even knows her. As he leaves, Van Horn says, “May God have mercy on your soul.”
Lulu on the Bridge (1998)
Directed by: Paul Auster
Starring: Harvey Keitel, Mira Sorvino, Willem Dafoe, Gina Gershon, Vanessa Redgrave, Mandy Patinkin, Sophie Auster, Peggy Gormley, Harold Perrineau, Kevin Corrigan
Screenplay by: Paul Auster
Production Design by: Kalina Ivanov
Cinematography by: Alik Sakharov
Film Editing by: Tim Squyres
Costume Design by: Adelle Lutz
Art Direction by: Ed Check
Music by: John Lurie, Graeme Revell
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some violence, brief strong language and sensuality.
Distributed by: Trimark Pictures
Release Date: August 14, 1998 (Norway)