Nicola Peltz Beckham’s ‘vanity project’ savaged by critics: ‘Awful beyond my wildest expectations’

Actor has written and starred in her self-directed film ‘Lola’

Ellie Muir
Tuesday 16 April 2024 11:56 BST

Nicola Peltz Beckham’s directorial debut Lola has been torn apart by critics, with some labelling it “poverty porn” and a “vanity project”.

Peltz Beckham, 29, daughter of billionaire Disney investor Nelson Peltz and daughter-in-law of David and Victoria Beckham through her marriage to their son Brooklyn, directed and starred in the film as the titular character – a teenage girl living in “middle America” who overcomes a series of traumatic events.

Lola, who works in a drugstore and a strip club, tries to make enough money to protect her queer younger brother from her alcoholic mother. Peltz’s character takes refuge in her best friend’s house, but when she stops back home to collect her belongings, her mother’s boyfriend, Trick, rapes her.

More traumatic events unfold from there: Lola starts taking drugs, her brother dies in a car accident, and Lola falls pregnant with the baby conceived by rape.

Critics have called out Peltz Beckham’s use of the aesthetics of poverty, and sex work, for her own creative recognition.

The Guardian’s Kady Ruth Ashcraft writes that the film is “filled to the brim with underbaked, oftentimes harmful tropes – the supportive Black best friend, a queer child meeting an unceremonious death, the virginal stripper saved by motherhood, a hypocritical Christian drunk”.

Ashcraft adds: “Peltz Beckham did achieve something with Lola: it’s called ‘poverty porn’, and in film, that means the exploitation of the conditions of poverty for entertainment and artistic recognition.

Nicola Peltz as the titular character in ‘Lola’ (Vertical Entertainment)

“What makes Lola such a flagrant example of poverty porn is just how careless the project feels in the context of Peltz Beckham’s exceptionally lavish life,” writes Ashcraft, who sums Lola up as a “laughably oblique film”.

On social media, one viewer labelled the movie a “vanity project” for Peltz Beckham, as another called the film “out of touch”.

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“I’m watching Lola, the Nicola Peltz Beckham poverty porn vanity project, and bloody hell it is awful beyond my wildest expectations,” wrote a viewer on X/Twitter. The Independent has contacted Peltz Beckham’s representatives for comment.

At the time of writing, Lola has received a rating of 3.8 stars out of 10 on IMDB.

Peltz Beckham in ‘Lola’ (Vertical Entertainment)

Andrew Burton wrote for Spectrum Culture: “It’s not a law that directors making slice-of-life flicks must be personally familiar with the material they are depicting, but before even watching Lola, the disconnect between the dead-end world the film takes place in and Peltz Beckham’s background stands out as jarring.”

Peltz Beckham, who married Brooklyn in 2022, has previously acted in films such as Holidate, Back Roads and Welcome to Chippendales, but Lola is her first writing and directorial work that has been debuted on the big screen. Republic Records CEO Monte Lipman is listed as an executive producer on the film and Quincy Jones is listed as a musical director.

When the film launched via a limited cinematic release on 9 February, Peltz said in an interview with Byrdie that the film is “about getting a second chance at life. It’s never too late to start over, and I think that message is super powerful”.

She later toldThe Hollywood Reporter that while she gave her younger brother, Will, a role in Lola, she had to cut her husband’s cameo from the film.

“Brooklyn is actually really upset that he did get cut from his one little cameo,” she said. “He had one line, ‘Hi,’ but he kept saying it in a British accent and he was staring directly into the camera.”

“I was like, oh God, we have to move on, good lord. So, Brooklyn ended up on the chopping block,” she said.

Lola is available to buy on Prime Video and Apple TV.

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