Review by Sean Boelman
Written, directed by, and co-starring Chad Faust, the crime thriller Girl clearly prides itself on its dark and gritty atmosphere. And while it is at least successful at pulling that much off, the flat and predictable story and frequently laughable performances undermine any tension that Faust may have been able to build.
The film follows a young woman who returns to her hometown with the intention of killing her abusive estranged father, only to discover that he had already been murdered, sending her on a search to find the killer. The plausibility of this story is only the beginning of its issues which add up into an altogether unpleasant viewing experience.
One problem with the movie is that Faust can’t seem to decide on how he wants to make the viewers feel uncomfortable. At times, there is an extreme investment in the atmosphere that goes a long way, and others, it feels as if the brutal violence is going to do the heavy lifting, but the thing that is missing is consistency.
Additionally, there is next to no character development in the film. Faust doesn’t even bother naming any of the main characters, which is clearly a choice, but a bad one at that. The arc that the protagonist has is about as paint-by-numbers as they come, and when the true motivations of the antagonists are revealed, it’s enough to make the viewer’s eyes hurt from rolling them so hard.
Bella Thorne tries her best to give a decent performance, but this just is not the role for her. On one hand, it’s too hard to buy her in this down-and-dirty role after she has been typecast for so long as the stuck-up brat, but she also doesn’t bring any emotion to the character. And Mickey Rourke gives yet another performance here that feels completely phoned-in.
Perhaps most disappointing is the fact that Faust doesn’t use his script to say anything particularly interesting. What could have been an interesting dissection of domestic abuse turns into something much more conventional, a blend of revenge doesn’t pay and that everything isn’t as it seems.
There are some really interesting visual elements in play here, and they complement the script really well, it’s just that the script is so overwhelmingly bad that the style can’t save it. A great soundtrack, solid score, and cinematography that legitimately knows how to build suspense is wasted on a movie that is narratively inert.
For a violent thriller, Girl is a lot more boring than it has any right to be. It’s a shame, because in his feature debut, Chad Faust shows a lot of talent. It would be interesting to see him direct a script that is not his own.
Girl hits theaters on November 20 and VOD on November 24.