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An omnibus of seven stories, all set in the room 720 of Century Hotel, that illustrate the tense and changing nature of relationships between men and women during each of the seven decades between the 1920s and the 1990s.
At fancy, private Colby University, in the North Carolina hills, a drug overdose puts a senior near death. The school administration calls in the acting sheriff to conduct "a delicate and discrete investigation" - a whitewash. The more he digs, the more evidence he finds that the overdose may have been attempted murder. In flashbacks that parallel his investigation, we see Alicia, a scholarship girl worried about her grades, gradually pulled into the social life of three rich and amoral young women, led by the blond Hadley, a femme fatale. Before the investigation ends, we've met boyfriends, a drug dealer, Alicia's mom, Hadley's dad, nurses, doctors, and an orderly. Written by
Alicia Campbell is a good girl. Coming from a poor family this sweet, hard-working girl is focused on her education, determined to make something of her life. Hadley Ashton is a bad girl. Coming from a rich family this cold, bitchy girl doesn't want to work, she expects to have life handed to her on a silver platter. The two girls attend one of those colleges where the college runs the town. The college president makes this perfectly clear when the acting sheriff turns up on campus to investigate how sweet little Alicia ended up comatose in a hospital bed, fighting for her life. The president makes it very clear that he expects there to be no actual investigating done in this investigation. But Sheriff Artie Bonner keeps digging.
The movie unfolds largely in flashbacks as we see the oh-so-innocent Alicia lose her innocence which leads to her potentially losing her life. She and Hadley are paired up on a school project. Alicia is a social nobody, Hadley is one of the campus queens. Hadley and her rich, snotty friends take Alicia under their wing. Alicia starts to change. Not so innocent after all perhaps. Drugs and sex, and more drugs and more sex and what exactly has Alicia gotten herself into? Eventually she overdoses on cocaine. Accident? Hadley and her friends would like you to believe that. The college president would definitely like you to believe that. The sheriff does not believe that.
The movie sets Hadley and her two main cohorts, Sidney and Julianne, up as potential suspects, giving them each motivations for perhaps wanting to be rid of Alicia. Some other fringe characters get involved too but the focus is clearly on this gang of three. Truth be told this is not a particularly mysterious mystery. Those watching will probably put all the pieces of the puzzle together long before the sheriff does. The hint of obviousness drains away some of the drama but that doesn't necessarily make New Best Friend a bad movie. It's far from the greatest thing you'll ever see but it's reasonably compelling. Trashy but entertainingly so. Mia Kirshner turns in a very good performance in playing Alicia. The character evolves, not necessarily for the best, and Kirshner nails the transformation. You believe her as the sweet, innocent girl we first meet. And you believe her as the girl who ultimately proves to be something else entirely. The rest of the cast is not quite up to Kirshner's standard. Meredith Monroe is a little flat in playing ice queen Hadley, neither Dominique Swain nor Rachel True are particularly memorable in playing our other two would-be murderesses. And playing the sheriff Taye Diggs just appears to be going through the motions. A flawed movie to be sure but there are enough good things here, Kirshner most notably, to make it a decent viewing experience. Not a movie you'd regret missing if you didn't see it. But not a movie you'd regret seeing if you did.
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