At 17, high-school junior Shirley Lyner is thinking about college and running a babysitting service that provides teen call girls to the dads of young children. In a long flashback, we see what brought her from being a babysitter to organizing and running the service. It starts with Michael, the father of children she baby-sits. A cup of coffee on the way home from his house, a night visit to a train yard, and one thing leads to another. Shirley can be ruthless, and tension builds when some of the clients take the girls to a mountain cabin and bring drugs. Then, one of the girls tries to freelance. Can this end well: is it a tragedy in the making? Do we all have secrets? Written by
Shirley Lyner. I'm a junior at Alfred E. Groves high school. This is my babysitting service. The answer is no: mom doesn't drink, dad didn't hit me, Uncle Steve never showed me his privates. I don't even have an Uncle Steve. The money is nice, and paid fellatio isn't that much more humiliating than flipping burgers. But that's not why I do it.
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Stuck at home and recovering from a viral throat infection, I was looking for a couple of nice little cheesy movies that didn't take much brain power. What I found instead, was one utter piece of dross (Black Ribbon, don't bother watching it), and this absolute gem.
Not at all the Debbie-does-Dallas style piece of cheese that I was expecting from the description I had read, I found this film really rather touching and thought provoking. The acting was excellent, especially considering the apparent young age of some of the cast. Katherine Waterston shone as Shirley, and managed to convey all of the awkwardness of her slightly neurotic teenage character, whilst still being completely convincing in later scenes where her inner core of steel shows through. The range of different personalities amongst the girls as a group was excellent, and each character was thoroughly fleshed out. If there was a weak link here, I would say that perhaps there was not quite enough focus on the reactions of the teenage boys to what is going on around them - Scott's reaction to Shirley later in the film appears to come from nowhere. Perhaps a deleted scene?
The sex, whilst somewhat explicit, was never gratuitous, and there were a couple of uncomfortable scenes that had me on the edge of my seat. Whilst I certainly never got involved in anything like this as a teenager, I found I was reminded very strongly of the amoral thing I once was, and rather grateful, in fact, that I was never given the choice that these girls are offered in the film. The lack of any real analysis of their actions only serves to make these teens more convincing in my view - what teenager really considers the consequences of their actions before taking them?
My recommendation: Get hold of a copy of this film, grab yourself some popcorn, and watch it through, and be prepared for some introspection afterwards.
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