Saturday, 5 July 2014

REVIEW - VERY GOOD GIRLS (NAOMI FONER)


As plain and pallid as lead Dakota Fanning's alabaster skin, screenwriter Naomi Foner's first foray into directing is a featherweight affair, mired by questionable artistic choices at every stage of production. As a concept, it's trite and predictable, though not devoid of room for exploration: two New York girls who want to lose their virginity in their last summer before heading off to college fall for the same guy. Foner's preoccupation is the most fertile relationship in the film to be mined for intelligent dramatic discourse - that of her two protagonists, but even this sturdiest of elements in Very Good Girls is spoiled by pat, cliched dialogue and unimaginative character development. Fanning, in the more prominent role, fails to exude enough charisma to make her believable as an object of lust for such a hunky young man (Boyd Holbrook, entirely forgettable); Elizabeth Olsen as her friend is equally unconvincing, if only for the fact that she looks several years older than Fanning, as she indeed is. Foner has the pair circle around Holbrook's character like sad moths to an especially tepid flame, in scenes as humdrum in concept as they are in execution - a bland visual scheme and consistently hideous music cues do nothing to enliven the direction, which is as flat and prosaic as those glib teen dramas that are so bizarrely successful on TV. In essence, Very Good Girls is like a less glamorous, less ambitious, even less funny film version of The OC. One senses that the accomplished cast, assembled by Avy Kaufman, signed on for reasons other than the quality of the script - the film even stars Peter Sarsgaard, Foner's son-in-law, a confirmation of the fact that this is the kind of film one might do as a favour to a friend, and not for any significant artistic benefit. Because there is none.