Girls Town Movie Review

Movie Review by Anthony Leong © Copyright 1997

Emma, shit, I mean, you don't crawl into a car like that with a guy.
I didn't want to have sex.
Look man, I believe you, but I mean, what do you expect? They want to have sex with you and you don't want to have sex with them-- they're going to fuck you anyway. I mean, if you call that rape, then I've been raped by about
every guy I've gone out with.
This shit's not fucking funny.
I'm not saying it's funny... I'm just saying that's just the reality.
But that doesn't make it right Patty.

"Girls Town", directed by Jim McKay, was an independent feature that won special recognition at last year's Sundance Film Festival for collaboration because there was no script when production began. The entire script was improvised by the actresses over a few days. In this respect, this film is a stunning achievement, though it does come off like a travelogue, much like "Trainspotting".

The film opens up with an MTV-school-of-filmmaking-slo-mo tracking shot of Nikki (Aunjenue Ellis), a high school senior in an inner city school. As she walks to meet her friends at the corner convenience store, we hear in voice-over that she has been raped. Not long afterwards, she commits suicide, leaving her friends Patty (Lilli Taylor, also seen in "I Shot Andy Warhol"), Emma (Anna Grace), and Angela (Bruklin Harris) to sort out their feelings of rage and resolve their own plights of entrapment. Patty is a single mother who is constantly harassed by her abusive ex-boyfriend, Eddie. Emma was a victim of date-rape and has an overbearing boyfriend. Finally, in the weakest B-story, Angela doesn't get along with her mother. Nikki's suicide serves as a catalyst for these three young women to discuss their problems with each other and lash out against oppression and male juvenile attitudes that they are faced with on a daily basis, with acts of vandalism and theft.

As I said before, this movie is essentially a travelogue in which we follow the three women around as they empower themselves with mixed results. However, unlike "Trainspotting", you actually feel for the characters and give a damn as to whether or not their challenges are resolved. And with a dope-rhyme hip-hop soundtrack to boot, this film isn't bad. Though not as polished as the other recent indie high school film, "Welcome to the Dollhouse", which essentially dealt with similar themes, "Girls Town" is worth a look.

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