Very Good Girls
Well Go USA // R // $29.98 // September 23, 2014
Review by Oktay Ege Kozak | posted September 10, 2014
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R E V I E W S
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The Movie:

Very Good Girls is a feature-length soap opera full of characters devoid of any depth or personality, occupying a meandering, unfocused screenplay without anything of value to say. Looking at a blank screen for an hour and a half would be more intellectually and spiritually rewarding. At least then you would get a decent session of meditation while holding onto that Blu-Ray rental or, gasp, purchase money in your wallet.

It opens with a desperate pretense of edginess as two entitled upper-middle-class BFFs Lilly (Dakota Fanning) and Gerri (Elizabeth Olsen) streak through a public beach in New York City as we get a clunky, more juvenile callback to the sexually aggressive characters from Spring Breakers, which in itself is quite an achievement. But make no mistake; Very Good Girls is actually as square as a block of cheese.

The story, in the loosest sense of the word, is about Lilly and Gerri both falling in love with the same hunky, annoyingly stoic street artist named David (Boyd Holbrook), which serves to create a love triangle melodrama so predictable and so full of clichés that the premise would have been rejected by the WB network during the mid-90s. Apparently writer/director Naomi Foner wrote the screenplay twenty years before it was produced. Maybe if she waited another twenty years, she could have realized it should never have been produced to begin with.

For inexplicable reasons, Gerri immediately falls in love with David and turns into the feature film version of the Overly Attached Girlfriend meme as she practically drools every time she mentions David's name. If she was going to turn into a less emotionally independent version of Bella from Twilight, what was the point of the increasingly out-of-place beach scene from the beginning? I could call the characters wildly uneven if there was anything to hold onto in the first place.

Eventually, Lilly also falls for David after David plasters secretly taken photos of Lilly all over the streets of her neighborhood with the caption "Where do you live?" He's such an adorable stalker, yet I can't help but feel like Lilly would have immediately called the cops on David if he was a middle-aged "street artist" with a beer belly and a windowless van. Alas, he's a movie hunk, so instead she throws herself at him as soon as she sees his sweet artist loft, which only exists in movies and tween girls' fantasies.

From this point on, the attempt is to create a basic conflict for Lilly as she becomes more and more unsure of whether or not she should tell Gerri about her relationship with David and put her friendship in danger, since Gerri is officially dating David even though they're not getting it on. This conflict is dead on arrival for two reasons: First, we don't get a single scene with David and Gerri alone, so we don't have a clue as to the true nature of their relationship, therefore making it impossible to care about its possible dissolution.

The second problem is a much grander one, which revolves around the fact that the entire film focuses on the girls' obsession with David, who's a cardboard character played by an actor who looks like he was denied a part in the Twilight franchise because his acting was too wooden. The combination of the flat writing and the expressionless acting makes this character barely register as a carbon based life form. The intense attraction the characters as well as the film itself has towards this veritable block of wood create some of the most unintentionally funny moments in the film.

Even though Very Good Girls is exclusively about two young female characters, it shockingly fails The Bechdel Test, which states that female characters appearing in a feature or TV show has to talk about anything other than a man. In this case, the Expendables movies would have a better chance at passing. Every single scene shows Gerri and Lilly talk and argue over David. I don't think Elizabeth Olsen has a single line of dialogue that doesn't involve her fixation on this character.

Gerri and Lilly's parents are played by a line of consummate professionals like Ellen Barkin, Clark Gregg, Demi Moore and Richard Dreyfuss, who looks like he's doing an impression of Darrell Hammond doing an impression of Richard Dreyfuss. They all look like they're doing a friend a minor favor as they sleepwalk through their performances. At least Peter Sarsgaard as Lilly's pervy boss has an excuse for appearing in this colossal waste of time: The director is his mother-in-law.

The Blu-Ray:

Video:

Don't be mistaken by the high rating, it only refers to the fact that this is a 1080p transfer without any discernible video noise and that it has a clear presentation. Very Good Girls sports a bland and flat cinematography that makes it look like a bad basic-cable TV show. Outdoor sequences lack any depth and contrast while the indoor sequences are underlit and lacking in any grain. It was shot digitally and it looks like it went through the minimal amount of post work in order to make it stand out more as a feature. Otherwise, the Blu-Ray transfer looks like it was at least faithful to the source material.

Audio:

Two options are offered, a 5.1 DTS-HD surround track, as well as a 2.0 DTS-HD stereo presentation. If one were so inclined to watch Very Good Girls for whatever reason, listening to it through regular stereo TV speakers via the 2.0 track would probably suffice. The 5.1 track rarely ever shows any surround presence and the pedantic score practically sticks to the stereo channels anyway. Otherwise, the dialogue can be heard clearly in both tracks.

Extras:

Interviews: A whopping 50-plus minutes of interviews with Naomi Foner, Dakota Fanning and Elizabeth Olsen further proves how unfocused this project really was. Director Foner describes the film as a story where "Anything's possible". What!?

A Trailer, as well as a bunch of Trailers from other Well Go USA releases are also included.

Final Thoughts:

A Lifetime TV movie lacking in any edge or originality gets an attempt at an R-rated edgy makeover as it falls flat on its face. Avoid at all costs.



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