GIRL ASLEEP

2015; directed by Rosemary Myers; written by Matthew Whittet; 77 mins

[WON’T YOU TAKE ME TO SPOILER TOWN? WON’T YOU TAKE ME TO SPOILER TOWN?]

Here’s an example of a film that was so nearly great and so nearly a disaster but I want people to go and see this if they get even half a chance because it is 85% wonderful! I would also say that my ticket for whatever Rosemary Myers is gonna make next is already in the bank…

Greta is 14 going on 15, in a new school, in what appears to be the 70s. She is approached by affable school dork, Elliott who wants to be her best friend and the school bitches who allow her to be their friend. At home, she has a older teenage sister who is already rowing with slightly mental Mum and Dad about staying out and boys and wotnot. In the midst of all this, Mum decides that Greta should have a party for her 15th birthday to “draw her out of her shell”. Initially, Greta wants nothing to do with it but eventually, reluctantly relents but before she knows it, Mum has invited everyone at school!

From the start, in my head, this film shot up to five stars in pretty short order! Everything was right! It was consistently funny, relatable and warm-hearted. The opening shot is ostensibly a two-shot of Greta and Elliott but with all sorts of typical, cruel playground activity going on in the background and the camera, incrementally, tracking in on them. When she gets home, we have Amber McMahon and writer, Matthew Whittet doing hilarious work as the loving but clueless parents and big sister’s smoothie boyfriend coming on to anything and everything. The cast do a uniformly great job particularly whilst doing deliberately rehearsed-sounding line readings (in the vein of someone like Aki Kaurismäki). The 4:3 boxy aspect ratio and the yellowing, formica tones of the school and home really make for a slightly iffy, tacky facade which increases your understanding of Greta’s discomfort with her world. On top of all that, it just got funnier!

… and then! Two thirds of the way through the film there is… a dream sequence!

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOoooooooooooooo!!!

All of a sudden, Greta chases a masked figure into the woods which border her house and we spend the next 10-15 minutes being bombarded by a meteor shower of metaphors! Greta meets and confronts all her demons and the film (and apparently the play on which it’s based) do this painfully on-the-nose fantasy sequence!

I’m being melodramatic.

BUT! Like Rogue One, this section bugged me so much more because the rest of the film was so great and – in actual fact – was doing so much of the metaphorical work that the dream sequence is almost entirely redundant. Don’t get me wrong, there is good stuff in there but it falls foul of turning into quirky and it’s better than that! Thankfully, it gets it back at the end with a disco/kung-fu fight scene.

I did love all the rest of it and the final word should go to lead, Bethany Whitmore who perfectly anchors the movie wherever it goes.

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