I know, I’m slacking with the movie reviews at the moment. Which is only shooting myself in the foot as those were always what gave me the most traffic when I started the blog. It’s just that, recently, the music posts are taking my interest and they’re much easier to write. With the music ones, I’m just listening and typing, while the movie reviews I put 5% more effort into. Of course, I’m still posting all of the lists and writing a lot in the background which is zapping my creative juices. Having said that, I do have a tonne of old movie reviews written in the early 2000s that I haven’t yet published here – they’re not the most enlightening and I can’t be arsed updating them – so catch#22 – do I bother posting them and risk ridicule, or take the time and effort to update them when I’m a lazy bugger? Having said that, I also have a load of less old album reviews which I could be posting too. For whatever reason, I just keep pumping out new crap instead of old.
Girls Against Boys then. Yes, this is a movie review for anyone who hasn’t been scared off by that unrelated intro. I’m planning to post a few more movie reviews, that’s all I’m saying. I can’t recall where I first heard about Girls Against Boys, but it had been on my radar for a few years. Starring Danielle Panabaker (possibly why it was on my radar) as Shae, a Student who is having a relationship with an older, married man. When he scorns her, she drowns her sorrows at a bar and meets colleague Lu and bunch of standard Bro scumbags. One of the scumbags doesn’t take no for an answer and rapes Shae. If there’s a common thread running through the film, it’s that people are scumbags – men, women, single, married, young, old. I’m sure that’s not the intent and that the film was designed to be an empowering rape revenge feminist film, but the message is muddied to prevent it from being meaningful.
The film’s central problem doesn’t lie in the handling of the sexual assault, or the subsequent violence, but more in the handling of the two protagonists. Lu is clearly unhinged from the beginning but rather than being some powerful avenging angel, she instead devolves into a crazy white woman trope – an obsessive just as evil as the clueless men she kills, except more calculating. She comes across as someone who will attack at the merest sniff of male sexuality; yes, those she attacks are, at best assholes with boners and at worst, serial rapists, but the fact that she attacks with little provocation in some cases, and ultimately that she is revealed to want Shae for herself paints her as just another collection of tropes shoved inside an alluring body. Shae seems a little to easily led along the path of destruction – from the outside I can understand the desire for revenge, but there is little inner anguish or display of such drive or emotion. Neither actress is at fault here, rather the writing and direction – muddled when it should have been clear, and focused on violence instead of turmoil. The flawed cherry on top is the nailed on ‘shock’ ending which closes the film suggesting Shae is now the obsessed, or the possessed, even though she has no reason to be. It’s a tacky, groundless ending which serves no purpose other than to further muddy those already churning waters.
Elsewhere the movie works. As mentioned, the two leads are captivating while the assortment of side characters play up to their roles as Type A to Type Z scumbags efficiently. There are a couple of exceptions to the scumbag rule – again no complaints with the performances, and one character does elicit a drop or two of sympathy. Director Austin Chick doesn’t dwell on the sexual assault – this is in no way in the same league as something like Revenge or I Spit On Your Grave in terms of graphic depictions or exploitation which makes the film all the more frustrating – this could have been a more powerful piece dealing with how women are viewed in society, with how such crimes are investigated or ignored, and how the victim is often made to feel guilty or forced into finding justice outside of the law. Instead it feels like Single White Female for a new generation, but without the conviction or smarts to decide what it wants to be or say.
Let us know in the comments what you think of Girls Against Boys!