Nicola Peltz Beckham, a billionaire's daughter, made an indie film where she plays a poor stripper. It didn't go well.

Nicola Peltz Beckham in "Lola."
Nicola Peltz Beckham in "Lola."Vertical Entertainment
  • Nicola Peltz Beckham wrote, directed, and stars in the indie film "Lola" about a teen living in poverty.

  • The movie is being slammed by critics, with one calling it exploitative and "poverty porn."

  • Peltz Beckham is the daughter of billionaire Nelson Peltz and is married to Brooklyn Beckham.

Nicola Peltz Beckham's directorial debut about a teen struggling to make ends meet in middle America is getting lambasted by critics.

"Lola," released in limited theaters on February 9, is written and directed by Peltz Beckham, who plays the titular character.

The coming-of-age indie film centers on a 19-year-old girl named Lola James who works at a drugstore and a strip club in hopes of saving up enough money to get her and her younger brother Arlo (Luke David Blumm) out of the home they share with their toxic mom.

Peltz Beckham's own upbringing is a far cry from Lola's. She's the daughter of businessman Nelson Peltz, whose estimated net worth is $1.5 billion. She's also married to Brooklyn Beckham, David and Victoria Beckham's eldest child. The couple wed in a lavish oceanfront wedding in Palm Beach in 2022 that reportedly cost $3 million and featured 500 guests including celebrities like Venus and Serena Williams.

Brooklyn Peltz Beckham and Nicola Peltz Beckham
Brooklyn Beckham and Nicola Peltz Beckham have been married since 2022.Kevin Winter/WireImage/Getty Images

Peltz Beckham, who's been acting since she was 12, is best known for her roles in "Transformers: Age of Extinction" and "Bates Motel." She previously told WWD that she wrote the initial script six years ago when she was 23 over the course of three days. The character Arlo is inspired by her godson, and Lola's best friend Babina (Raven Goodwin) is based on Peltz Beckham's real-life friend Angela. Her brother Will Peltz has a role as a member of a Narcotics Anonymous group, while she revealed that her husband Brooklyn was cut from the movie because he botched his only line and kept staring directly at the camera.

Although "Lola" was released two months ago, the movie has become a topic of renewed discussion following a scathing review published by The Guardian on Friday that referred to it as a "vanity project."

In the review, writer Kady Ruth Ashcraft said that the film is inundated 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 added that the movie feels exploitative of sex work and queer suffering.

"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," Ashcraft wrote.

Nicola Peltz Beckham in "Lola."
Nicola Peltz Beckham in "Lola."Vertical Entertainment

The criticism is even sharper when the heavy subject material is conceptualized and helmed by someone of a vastly different class.

"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," Ashcraft wrote.

Ashcraft wasn't the only critic to call out the film.

"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," Andrew Burton wrote for Spectrum Culture. "One can't help but feel that the project is doomed from the get-go because it is conceptually untenable."

Ayeen Forootan of In Review Online described "Lola" as a "poorly scripted and stereotypically melodramatic story," but praised the visual design of the film.

Peltz Beckham acknowledged the disconnect between her life and that of her character during her WWD interview, saying that she "did not grow up like Lola at all," but she still wanted to write a story from a perspective different from her own.

Business Insider reached out to Peltz Beckham and the film's distributor Vertical Entertainment, but did not receive a response.

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