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Film / Lost and Delirious

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Lost and Delirious is a film about a young, naïve heterosexual girl named Mary or "Mouse" (Mischa Barton) who moves in to boarding school with a couple of lesbians who are involved in an intimate relationship. The story follows Mouse's attempts to understand their relationship and adult sexuality and also follows the struggles Paulie (Piper Perabo) and Tori (Jessica Paré) have as a lesbian couple at an all-girls private school. When Tori's little sister catches them together, Tori throws herself into a relationship with a guy and Paulie desperately tries to win her back.

Based (with some serious adaptations) on Canadian author Susan Swan's novel ''The Wives of Bath''.


  • Abled in the Adaptation: In "The Wives of Bath", Mary has a hump in her left shoulder as a result of a childhood bout of polio, which developed into kyphosis. Mischa Barton interpretation of Mary utterly lacks such as thing.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy: Paulie in the film has her inner demons and dangerous emotional struggles which is the end exacerbates her decision to take her own life, but she's a lot friendlier and a lot less emotionally volatile and dangerous that in the book. The majority of her most insidious, dangerous and utterly unnerving elements are completely Adapted Out, which makes her come as much more tragic as a result.
  • Adaptation Explanation Extrication: Paulie's change in dress is a clear parallel to her counterpart's other identity as Lewis in "The Wives of Bath", as are many of her other actions and their results.
  • All Men Are Perverts: Heavily implied with Jake and his friend.
  • Blatant Lies: Paulie's stated reason for why she and Tori tend to end up naked in Tori's bed is that Tori has awful nightmares and that she's trying to comfort her. The first time she used this excuse, the person she's telling it to (Mary) already knows what's going on, and the second time the people she tells it to (Tori's sister and her friends) don't believe her.
  • Boarding School: Mouse, Tori, and Paulie attend one. In the book, it was more of a Boarding School of Horrors, but the film version is fairly ordinary.
  • Brain Bleach: The reaction of Tori's sister when she catches Paulie and Tori in bed together. Tori's family is very conservative and prudish, finding homosexuality abominable.
  • Bury Your Gays: Paulie kills herself at the end over Tori leaving her.
  • Butch Lesbian: Paulie (though she claims not to be a lesbian, just into Tori specifically), would be a downplayed example, something of a ladette by her appearance and behavior.
  • Cultured Badass: Paulie is an expert fencer with a trained falcon and a tendency to quote Shakespeare.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Paulie challenges Jake to a sword duel over Tori. Given that she's a fencing prodigy and he's only ever handled a sword during theatrical productions, the fight is extremely one-sided.
  • Disappeared Dad: Mary's dad is around, but they're emotionally estranged after her mother's death. He apparently remarried soon after, with Mary disliking her stepmother (likely due to how fast this happened) and being sent off to a boarding school by him. When he later doesn't show up for a father-daughter dance at the school, it clearly hurts Mary.
  • Downer Ending: Tori has broken up with Paulie as she's afraid of her homophobic family rejecting her. She's with a guy, likely pretending to be straight. Paulie is devastated by this and eventually kills herself.
  • Driven to Suicide: Paulie kills herself at the end of the movie in sorrow over Tori leaving her.
  • Gayngst: Tori realizes and admits twice (to Mary and Paulie herself) that her love for Paulie is something she's not likely to ever experience again. However, she cannot bear to face rejection from her parents and her peers, and so she pretends/forces herself to be straight in order to avoid the rejection.
  • Gayngst-Induced Suicide: Paulie kills herself when her beloved Tori breaks up with her due to fear of her family disowning her, and dates a guy (probably trying to pass for straight). She insists they're not lesbians, just into each other specifically, but the effect is the same.
  • If It's You, It's Okay: Paulie claims that she and Tori are not lesbians but are simply in love with each other.
  • Innocent Bystander: Tori.
  • Jerkass: Tori's sister and father on-screen, and her mother offscreen. Mary's stepmother is no prize either.
  • Lighter and Softer: Paulie is just a Psycho Lesbian in the movie. In the book, however, she's far worse.
  • Lipstick Lesbian: Tori, who acts and dresses femininely while being in a relationship with another girl.
  • Love Triangle: Paulie/Tori/Jake.
  • Masculine–Feminine Gay Couple: Paulie and Tori, respectively.
  • Missing Mom:
    • Mary's mother died from cancer just a couple years before the film began, and she's clearly still in mourning. When relating what happened to Tori and Paulie, all three grow tearful. They give her the nickname "Mary Brave" as a result. She also reminisces about her mother to Joe, the gardener, helping him because her mother and Mary gardened together.
    • Paulie's birth mother, meanwhile, gave her up for adoption and she really wants to reunite (not liking her foster parents at all). Unfortunately, her birth mother doesn't want this, which clearly devastates Paulie (although she pretends otherwise) and likely does no favors to her mental state as Tori had just broken up with her then too.
  • Nice Girl: Mary, who at times is Paulie's only friend and the Secret-Keeper to both her and Tori, and who obviously cares deeply for both of them. Another of Tori's friends, upon hearing the rumor about Paulie and Tori, makes a pretty obvious hint to Tori that if Tori were gay it would be fine with her, which Tori unfortunately ignores.
  • No Bisexuals: Hard to tell. It is never explicitly stated whether or not Tori enjoys her relationship with Jake, rather than simply trying to pretend she's straight.
  • One-Gender School: The school they all attend.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Tori's first name is really Victoria, but she's rarely called that. Pauline meanwhile is always just called Paulie.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: Several peripheral characters from the book (and Paulie being a murderer) were removed, for example.
  • Psycho Lesbian: Mary learns that her boarding school roommates are in love. One girl's family pitches a fit, and she goes to sleep with the first guy she sees, and the other girl goes completely insane, chasing eagles in the woods and she commits suicide at the end. It's even worse because the older teacher tries to save her by sharing her own forbidden love.

    Paulie's much less palatable in the book: she not only dresses up as a guy, but deceives the entire school population into thinking she has a brother, but she worships King Kong and she strings (the much less naive) Mouse along much further. Her own sexuality is never mentioned, although there's a brief scene with Tori, who professes a crush on "Lewis". The older teacher is still in a forbidden romance (here explicitly stated when Paulie and Mouse find letters from the teachers), but this is better justified by some deliberate Values Dissonance (the book's set in the 60's).
  • Queer Romance: Paulie and Tori, two girls at a boarding school, have to keep their sexual relationship hidden from everyone but their roommate Mary.
  • Secret Relationship: What Paulie and Tori have in the beginning.
  • Shout-Out: To Shakespeare: Paulie loves quoting Shakespeare, specifically Twelfth Night (the "willow cabin" speech she delivers to Tori in the library), Macbeth (the speech from Lady Macbeth about her milk turning to gall), and Antony and Cleopatra (the speech about what love is).
  • Single-Target Sexuality:
    Paulie: You think I'm a LESBIAN?
    Mouse: You're a girl in love with a girl, aren't you?
    Paulie: No! I'm PAULIE in love with TORI. Remember? And Tori, she is, she IS in love with me because she is mine and I am hers and neither of us are LESBIANS!
  • Stalker with a Crush: Paulie arguably becomes one of these, obsessing over Tori and crawling on top of her in bed while she's asleep.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Paulie and Tori.
  • Supporting Protagonist: Mary is the first character introduced in the film and the narrator. The movie is seen from her point-of-view but she has little impact on the plot, and the story is all about lesbians Paulie and Tori.
  • Swordfight: Paulie is a fencing expert and challenges Tori's boyfriend to a duel for her hand.
  • Unknown Rival: Jake has no idea why Paulie hates him. It's because they're into the same girl.
  • Wall Bang Her: Tori has sex with Jake against a tree (that can't feel very good, but then again she's probably only doing it to pass for straight).