LILY TOPPLES THE WORLD – Review by Susan Woszczyna

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Let’s just say that it is nearly impossible to not fall head over heels for the documentary Lily Topples the World. Its subject, 20-year-old Lily Hevesh, went from being a shy adoptee from China to becoming the Michelangelo of domino topplers via her YouTube videos that she started posting when she was just nine years old. Known as Hevesh5, she became lone female in an elite community of professional domino artists online and the most acclaimed with one billion digital views.

The relatable and charming 20-year-old Lily, who grew up in an all-white community in New Hampshire, also represents the Gen-Z generation who can build careers for themselves based on their passions. She initially attended the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. But the best part of attending the school was being able to make friends with her fellow female students.

But when celebrities such as Hugh Jackman started sharing her videos online, she realized that she could build a career for herself without getting a college degree. As I was watching scenes of her working her intricate designs, I realized I had seen her work before in the 2016 yuletide stinker Collateral Beauty. Sure enough, the film’s star Will Smith, who plays a grieving parent who pours his emotions into elaborate domino art, shows up on screen touting Lily’s prowess. Let’s just say her contributions pretty much were the best part of the film. She also is highly skilled with photographing and editing her work.

Unlike many docs about creative people, this is one has you holding your breath each time the first tile is pushed over and the click, click, clicking begins. The designs become kinetic paintings — I especially enjoyed one that featured characters from the animated films The Incredibles and Monster Inc. Lily is also keen on recruiting others to join the domino community at events and patiently help others to learn her craft. It is also nice to see the male domino pros join her at many events as her assistants.

From doing a video for the Washington State Lottery to celebrating The Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon reaching the milestone of 20 million subscribers, her profile continues to grow. She is taken under the wing of high-profile YouTuber Casey Neistat, who provides her a space in New York City to show her work.

But her primary goal is to merchandise her own line of building dominos. It’s not so easy, given that the tiles must have just the right tactile feel, sharp corners and make the right sound as they fall. She was already turned down from one interested party who didn’t think such a product wouldn’t make the cut on toy shelves at stores like Walmart and Target. But does her dream eventually come true? Just watch and see.

One other piece of interest is that Asian actress Kelly Marie Tran, who played Rose Tico in The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker as well as providing the voice of the main character in Raya and the Last Dragon, makes her debut as a film producer.

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Susan Wloszczyna

In her nearly 30 years at USA Today, Susan Wloszczyna interviewed everyone from Vincent Price and Shirley Temple to Julia Roberts and Will Smith. Her coverage specialties include animation, musicals, comedies and any film starring Hayley Mills, Sandy Dennis or hobbits. Her crowning career achievements so far, besides having Terence Stamp place his bare feet in her lap during an interview for The Limey, is convincing the paper to send her to New Zealand twice for set visits, once for The Return of the King and the other for The Chronicles of Narnia and King Kong, and getting to be a zombie extra and interview George Romero in makeup on the set for Land of the Dead. Though not impressive enough for Pulitzer consideration, she also can be blamed for coining the moniker "Frat Pack," often used to describe the comedy clique that includes Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn and Will Ferrell. Her positions have included Life section copy desk chief for four years and a film reviewer for 12 years. She is currently a contributor for the online awards site Gold Derby and is an Oscar expert for Previously, she has been a freelance film reporter and critic, contributing regularly to, MPAA’s The Credits, the Washington Post, AARP The Magazine online and Indiewire as well as being a book reviewer for The Buffalo News. She previously worked as a feature editor at the Niagara Gazette in Niagara Falls, N.Y. A Buffalo native, she earned her bachelor's degree in English at Canisius College and a master's degree in journalism from Syracuse University.