Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Dirty Girl: Movie Review




   Embracing the dirty girl attitude.

I liked “Dirty Girl” because it was unabashedly fun. It was pro-gay rights, pro-female independence, and anti-religious persecution without it being about any of that. On the surface it was an ‘80s throwback with the teen kids embracing the “anything goes” attitude while their parents clung to their conservative values. Pack a suitcase, pop in a mixed tape and run away.2010

Directed by: Abe Sylvia

Screenplay by: Abe Sylvia

Starring: Juno Temple

Juno Temple as Danielle in Abe Sylvia's film DIRTY GIRL.
Juno Temple stars as the titular dirty girl, Danielle. She assumed the role of the rebellious daughter and the inappropriate student who relished any opportunity to be the sex symbol. The whole-heartedness with which Temple became Danielle not only made this type of person acceptable but empathetic too.

This isn’t to say that the film was perfect. One of the big drawbacks was that although the lead character did evolve, she did so with incongruent leaps. My other issue was that whenever Danielle and her companion Clarke had to stop and sing, the film stopped too. That could be on purpose though since they do seem to be trying to sell the soundtrack just as much as the movie itself.

It’s the movie itself, though, that I liked. It was the passion that all of the characters had for life that just danced off the screen. The societal lessons that important movies try to teach and which we all probably already know, are just silly, feel-good bonuses here since they came up with new, more realistic, and more relatable endings. Wait for Clarke’s reaction to his final circumstances if at any point you fear the monotonous drone of melodrama.

“Dirty Girl” does bring to mind similar better movies which walked parallel paths, most notably “Jolene”. And although after watching this, I immediately came home and bought the latter, it should still be able to find its place among accepting fans. It moves along at a quick pace, keeping the lead characters delightful even when they're depressed, and keeping the tone light even when the supporting characters commit some pretty heinous acts. I’ve never had a problem enjoying those types of conflicting scenes, but it does account for the movie’s poor reception. Keep in mind that this is writer and director Abe Sylvia’s first film and that the archetypal characters can actually belong to any decade then you should have no problem enjoying, and secretly wanting to be, the dirty girl.





Recommended:

Jolene (2008) - Such a captivating character, played by soon-to-be-a-star (at the time, and certifiable star now) Jessica Chastain, in an oddly alluring film.

Young Adult (2011) - An almost brilliant look at the world of a deeply troubled young adult.

Rid of Me (2011) - A bleak character study encompassing the best and discomfort of a dark comedy.