- Lindsay Lohan has new projects coming up, but critics savage new movie
- A celebrity expert questions whether she can pull off diverse characters
- Her "Canyons" director wrote that she is more talented than Marilyn Monroe
Remember when Lindsay Lohan was the next Ann-Margret?
Or Elizabeth Taylor? Or even Marilyn Monroe?
While that last comparison is still being bandied about -- for better or for worse -- today there is more buzz about "will she stay clean?" and "can she stay out of trouble?" than her talent.
Lohan's latest 90-day rehab stint, which ended this week, was taken as an alternative to three months of jail time for two misdemeanor convictions and a shoplifting probation violation finding in March.
Lindsay Lohan the actress seems to have been replaced by Lindsay Lohan the perpetual comeback kid.
And although she has continued to work sporadically, those roles have mostly been of troubled women, not unlike Lohan herself.
"At this point, we're not even sure she's still an actress," said Noah Levy, co-host of Vh1's "The Gossip Table." "Can Lindsay get sober and have a healthy and happy life? Of course she can. But can she be believable as a character that is not like herself? I don't know."
In "The Canyons," the new film written by Bret Easton Ellis ("American Psycho") and directed by Paul Schrader ("Taxi Driver," "Raging Bull"), Lohan plays Tara, a woman who has a lot going on -- not least of which is that her boyfriend (played by porn star James Deen) likes to invite other men and women home to have sex with them. The low-budget film had difficulties finding a distributor, and The New York Times documented Lohan's on-set antics, which nearly got her fired from the film before shooting even began.
"The Canyons" is set to be released this week via video on demand, and it has been savaged by critics for both the film and Lohan's acting.
"Lohan's performance is certainly terrible, but her steady slide started long ago," wrote IndieWire's Eric Kohn. " 'The Canyons' has nothing on the awesomely horrendous 2007 'I Know Who Killed Me,' a ultra-campy fusion of art house and crime movie tropes that fell apart in several directions at once."
Before that, Lohan made critics' hit list for her turn as Elizabeth Taylor in the made-for-television movie "Liz & Dick," about the late actress' love affair with Richard Burton. "Lohan, who has squandered years of promise and talent as a sullen-faced party girl and irregular arrestee, has been cut so many breaks, it's difficult to root for her anymore," Ken Tucker wrote in Entertainment Weekly.
While Lohan is reportedly doing well post-rehab, her biggest projects don't quite reflect the work of someone who was once on track to become the greatest actress of her generation. Instead, Lohan is slated to open up to talk show queen Oprah Winfrey while also appearing on an eight part docu-series chronicling her comeback. She's also guest-hosting for Chelsea Handler on "Chelsea Lately." Lohan can't even lay claim anymore to the title of Hollywood's most troubled ingenue, as that role has now been filled by Amanda Bynes.
So where does that leave her?
Schrader wrote in an essay for Film Comment that he believes Lohan and the late Marilyn Monroe have a lot in common.
"I think Lohan has more natural acting talent than Monroe did, but, like Monroe, her weakness is her inability to fake it," he wrote. "She feels she must be experiencing an emotion in order to play it. This leads to all sorts of emotional turmoil, not to mention on-set delays and melodrama.
"We call them "troubled," "tormented," "train wrecks" -- but we can't turn away. We can't stop watching. They get under our skin in a way that controlled performers can't."
Her father, Michael Lohan, recently told E! News he believes his daughter will be "another Robert Downey Jr.," referencing the Academy Award-nominated actor who famously turned around his life and career after several arrests and rehabs.
"I'm very, very proud of what she's accomplished, how far she's come and how seriously she's taking her sobriety and her future," he said.
So we'll watch. And we'll wait. But Lohan has been here before.
In 2012, a highly publicized guest appearance on "Glee" and shots of the actress dining with iconic director Woody Allen led to speculation that Lohan was on her way to a career resurgence. Then there was chatter that the actress was "a diva" on the "Glee" set, and nothing appeared to come of the chats with Allen. One year later, Lohan was back in rehab.
All the public can count on is that Lohan is willing to take any shot given to her.
"She is great at making attempts at a comeback," Levy said. "Is she great at having career longevity? The jury is still out."