Today’s Around the World with Netflix offering is a first year residents med school comedy from Brazil. “Lulli” borrows its premise from the “What Women Want/What Men Want” mind-reading comedies. But in situations and dialogue, in Portuguese or in English, cast and crew find laughs hard to come by over the course of their 90 minute “journey of self-discovery.”
“Lulli” (Larissa Manoela) is a driven, self-absorbed and bubbly redheaded pixie who has a hard time listening, she explains in the film’s opening narration.
“Listen closely,” she says. Because straight away, we hear her med student boyfriend Diego (Vinícius Redd) fret about not just his uncertainty about medicine (surgery) as a chosen profession, but his problems with them as a couple and some all-too-obvious health symptoms he’s been having of late.
Lulli, raised by a widowed mom, determined to be the star of the class and dismissive of his fading affections, if not his medical career doubts, doesn’t hear him. Then she lets him have some of her salad.
As Diego seizes up, as an ambulance is hastily-called, she blurts out “How come you never told me you were allergic to shrimp?”
“I told you a thousand times,” he gasps.
OK, he’s exaggerating and yes, maybe they’ve reached the “tuned-out” part of the relationship. But that’s his final straw.
Lulli’s narcissism plays out making rounds, distractedly “treating” patients while their head resident (Paula Possani) tries to keep everyone focused on a different patient so that they absorb these teachable moments. She misses clues patients give her and her fellow residents as they make their diagnostic quiz rounds. Lulli is headstrong and cocky, if empathetic. We’re waiting for her to accidentally kill somebody.
But no. It’s a patient stuck in an MRI who is her undoing. She ignores the thunder storm power failure procedures, ignores warnings from Diego, and bolts into the scanner room to “free” the “trapped” patient. Diego chases her. And both of them get a life-altering shock when the power surges back on.
Diego loses short term memory. He forgets that he’s broken up with his “beloved.” Lulli? She touches somebody, and hears their thoughts.
Her best friend in med school Vanessa (Amanda de Godoi) may tell her what she wants to hear, but her inner thoughts are more damning. Patients, Lulli discovers, lie about their drinking, their contact with cats, lots of things that might help speed up a diagnosis. She starts to impress her supervisor and her classmates, especially the re-smitten Diego.
“It was like watching ‘House!'”
Confessing to Vanessa only gets her admonished — at first.
“That only happens in the movies!” Right. To Mel Gibson (“What Women Want”) or Taraji P. Henson (“What Men Want”).
One obvious place “Lulli” could have produced laughs is when she realizes her once-dated/now platonic pal is gay. Another is when her friend forces her to see a tarot card reader. Only one of those kicks up a giggle.
The rest is just a lot of scenes of a cute and perky redhead medical resident and her supporting cast not being funny.
Rating: TV-14, adult situations, profanity
Cast: Larissa Manoela, Vinícius Redd, Amanda de Godoi, Sergio Malheiros, Paula Possani
Credits: Directed by César Rodrigues, scripted by Renato Fagundes and Thalita Rebouças. A Netflix release.
Running time: 1:30