Review by Sean Boelman
There are some movies that are daring and edgy, and others that seem to be pushing the envelope for the sake of provocation and nothing else. Earnon O’Rourke’s Asking For It is most certainly the latter, a tasteless film that feels like a mix of Assassination Nation and Promising Young Woman without any of the elements that made those two movie good.
After a woman survives a sexual assault after a date with an old friend, she finds herself in the company of an all-female gang that uses unconventional methods of fighting back against the patriarchy. In the right hands, this concept could have been interesting, but O’Rourke fumbles it in an embarrassingly spectacular fashion.
Perhaps the single greatest sin (of many) committed by this film is in using rape as a plot device. Ultimately, the sexual assault isn’t necessary to the plot, as the villainy of the antagonists is effectively conveyed through their toxic masculinity and racism otherwise. It’s just a rancid cherry on top that leaves a disgusting taste in your mouth, and not in a good way.
And then there’s the fact that all of the antagonists are so cartoonish that they are hard to take seriously. Yes, there are real people like the alt-right trolls, but those characters aren’t the issue. The issue is every other male character in the movie, who is either a douchebag or a savior, when in real life, most guys are a shithead somewhere in the middle.
This could have been combated had there been strong character development for the protagonists, but the film is so shallow in this regard. The movie has the typical sizzles introducing all of the members of the gang, albeit not in montage format. For some of them, this is all the backstory we get, and for others, their motivations are outright manipulative.
It’s a shame, because O’Rourke was able to assemble a genuinely good cast for this, perhaps out of support for its message. Ezra Miller is insanely over-the-top in his role, moving past obnoxious into something that is just outright uncomfortable. And Kiersey Clemons, Vanessa Hudgens, Gabourey Sidibe, and Radha Mitchell are all underused.
From a technical level, the film is also a mess. It’s clear that O’Rourke is trying to infuse the movie with a feeling of energy, but it just comes across as aggressive and disorienting. Some of the editing in the film is absolutely atrocious and just goes against the fundamental principles of good judgment in filmmaking.
Asking For It is a mess in every sense of the word. Although its heart was (most likely) in the right place, the way in which it is executed is in such bad taste that it’s hard to forgive its laundry list of problems.
Asking For It hits theaters and VOD on March 4.