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rochefort [Film Festival 03.20.12] thriller drama



Year: 2012
Directors: Austin Chick
Writers: Austin Chick
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: rochefort
Rating: 3 out of 10

The only reason I can come up with for how "Girls Against Boys" made it into the South By Southwest Midnight Movie roster is that it's a revenge movie for people too pretentious to enjoy "Kill Bill", and I guess the fest felt obligated this year to cater to that demographic.


Shae (Danielle Panabaker) is a young girl just trying to make it in the big city. When her older, married boyfriend breaks it off to go back to his wife and baby, Shae opens up to co-worker Lu (Nicole LaLiberte), a predatory redhead who takes her out for a night of dancing and mind-erasing. Lu has a love/hate relationship with men: she loves to tantalize and seduce them, but hates to let them live much longer afterwards, and she makes Shae her apprentice in this new revenge movie from director Austin Chick.

It's during the night of revelry that Shae meets Simon (Michael Stahl-David, one of the annoying pretty actors who brought "Cloverfield" down a notch), who seems like a nice enough guy at first, but by morning he's grown tired of still-depressed Shae's refusal to give up the goods and assaults and rapes her at her own front door. Shae tries to take comfort with Terry (Andrew Howard), the ex who just dumped her, and he misreads her signals as an invitation to break-up sex. When she's finally able to pry off the second man who's held her down in the same day, Shae allows Lu to talk her into going to the police station, but the police can't make much of a case for her. So Lu, who has recently stolen a gun from a policeman she seduced (and killed), convinces Shae to track Simon down and get some old-school justice. So they shoot Simon, his roommates, and a rogues gallery of other male stereotypes. Lu develops an unhealthy obsession for Shae, innocents are caught in the crossfire, etc., etc.

Sheesh. Seriously? The only reason I can come up with for how "Girls Against Boys" made it into the South By Southwest Midnight Movie roster is that it's a revenge movie for people too pretentious to enjoy "Kill Bill", and I guess the fest felt obligated this year to cater to that demographic. Yes, rape is very, very bad and wrong, and it doesn't matter if the woman being assaulted dresses like a nun or a hooker, and there should always be a place for new and additional works that remind us of this fact. But "Girls Against Boys" gets worse the more you think about it, because it's hard to believe the filmmakers take any of the real-world ramifications of rape at all seriously. Tech-wise, it's a competently-enough executed flick, but everything about the intent is murky, the story neither smart enough to be a compelling one about justice and revenge nor outrageous enough to be decent exploitation.

The camerawork constantly showcases the two leads' long legs, lingerie, short shorts, bee-stung lips and lolita-pink cheeks, and feels like it's staged by a middle-aged Hollywood executive perve. The sole redeeming character, a shy bookworm who falls for Shae named Tyler (Liam Aiken), is here only to give Lu some competition and set up the "Single White Female" moments. And every time Shae or Lu shoot somebody, we wonder just how the hell they could make that much noise and kill that many people without running into some police, but that kind of reality never enters the picture. So what we get is a revenge fantasy with a shallow, ugly heart, and by the final moments we're left with the suspicion that the filmmakers believe every single character deserves what they got.

We're used to seeing broadly-drawn revenge flicks in which the villain characters are depicted as irredeemable and contemptible; we might be hard-pressed, in fact, to forgive our protagonists for their rampages otherwise. But it's been a long time since "Thelma and Louise" made their excellent case for equality, and in the years since The Bride and "Hard Candy"'s Ellen Page have substantially raised the bar for portrayals of wronged women who take action. "Girls Against Boys" plays as if writer/director Chick saw each of these films and said to himself, "you know, what this genre needs is more ironic hipster detachment". No, guys. It really, really doesn't.

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j.j. (8 years ago) Reply

So which douchebag programmed this film?


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