Friday, September 22, 2006
Teen Angst: Brick, Blue Car, Somersault, Fat Girl
While reviewing my current netflix queue (61 movies) and rental history (250 movies in 2 years including a 3 month hiatus) I noticed that nearly all of my recent netflix rentals have been portraits of troubled teenagers, mostly girls. I must be missing Veronica Mars. I can't wait for the V Mars season premiere on Tuesday. Here are some mini reviews of a few lost girl coming of age films.
High school film noir (based on the Maltesse Falcon) with great snappy dialogue. The two female leads are broken and manipulative; both girls hide their power. The lost girl's ex-boyfriend tries to save her but she doesn't want to be saved. The femme fatale just wants to be loved, but ends up causing a blood bath. The angst and awkwardness of teenagedom is polished and stylized but it somehow manages to freshly communicate raw longing and loss.
It's hard to compare the sophisticated artifice of Brick to Blue Car which is incredibly earnest and ham fisted. As a child of divorce, I thought I might relate to the lost girl who is bitter about the break up of her family, but the adults in the film are too cartoonish to make the film believable. The girl in this film has daddy and mommy issues. When she latches on to her lecherous English teacher after some over the top plot developments, I wasn't surprised. We're meant to think the main character is a good girl (she doesn't use sexuality to get what she wants) but lacking inner resources for success. Blue Car champions standing up for yourself and individuation, but is consumed with an after school special, see-this-is-what-happens-to-latch-key-kids-from-broken-homes moralism.
An arty Australian film featuring a 16 year old lost girl who runs away from home after she kisses her mother's boyfriend. She's resilient, but relies on her sexuality to get what she wants which of course means trouble. Trolling for guys or anyone who might feed her. Reminded me a little of Agnes Varda's Vagabond. The message is clear that a girl alone in the world automatically means that she's slutty trash. The focus on sex is more prominent in this film than the others, but it also moves in unexpected directions. She has a great emotional vocabulary and clearly explains how she feels. Coming of age in Somersault means understanding why people do the things they do, forgiveness.
Fat Girl is the most sensationalistic of this genre. French movie about a chubby 12 or 13 year old and her older beautiful teenage sister. The "fat girl" sees clearly how shallow her family is and how corrupt their values are. The older sister subjects the fat girl to witnessing her nightly trysts with her older scummy boyfriend. Similar in tone to Larry Clark's Kids; a cold clinical look at a train wreck. Ignorant parents, mean selfish people all around. Punishing sexuality in the way that Friday the 13th does with an abrupt murder in the final scene of the movie. I felt really bad for the young actresses who are put through some horrible situations. In the director's commentary, she proudly explains that it was hard for the girls, but it's good for them, they'll become better actors because of it. Fat Girl is cynical, none of the characters grow, there is no coming of age, only death.