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Yes, I have. We all have.
Two regurgitated caricatures of the stereotypical American teenage girl, Lily and Gerry are sooooooo different yet so alike. Both fall in love with the same part shady stalker, part brooding troubled artiste~ who wants to travel the world but his list of places to visit is, like, "Rome... (d-uh)Paris..." Daddy issues are, of course, played up wonderfully, because what is any worthy female teenage protagonist if not the product of her father's neglect? What possibly can one expect when the preppy rich teenage daughter of a straight-laced household made up of detached parents and siblings goes to her dad's office to ask him to get through with this patient already they're getting late for dinn- *gasp* and henceforth a series of incredibly stupid decisions are made by two girls we initially assume to be a lot smarter, wittier, braver and mature than they turn out to be. Every trick in the book for a deep and wholesome young-woman-coming-of-age film is not simply used, but abused in the most blatant schticky manner possible; I promise you, there is more than one cameo made by Sylvia Plath.
This film is a true example of lazy filmmaking in an industry where ~gratuitous-yet-modest~ sex scenes and summertime virginity pacts are more important than honest *portrayals* let alone discussions about teenage turmoil and female sexuality. Not even that awkwardly long shot of Dakota Fanning kinda-sorta running-jogging could redeem this movie.
Don't watch it. You've already seen it. And you've seen better.
Just watched it today, and It was a nice film that involved great acting. It could've been a lot better, but I just watched it because of Dakota Fanning and Elizabeth Olsen. They are a young and talented. I've seen many films that do the "let's lose our virginity" topic. Those others films were kinda comedic in a way but this one is kind of realistic and you feel as if a person would actually do something for their own benefit. That's the real world, trust is very hard to find and the purpose of this movie is to show young teens that losing your virginity just to get over with it might not turn out the way you want it to. It's better to have patience and wait for the right person instead of grabbing anyone nearby . Clark gregg was in the movie playing a doctor and father of Dakota F. character. She see's something she shouldn't have and she also has a broken relationship with her parents. Overall this movie is good but had potential to be great so give it a go. :)
"We got to get over this hump."
Very Good Girls was on my radar ever since I heard it was debuting in last year's Sundance Film Festival. The reason I was attracted towards this despite not knowing anything about the plot was the cast. It starred Elizabeth Olsen who I've been a fan of ever since Martha Marcy May Marlene and Dakota Fanning who I think hasn't matched that same potential she had as a child actress. The supporting cast included Demi Moore, Peter Sarsgaard, Clark Gregg, and Richard Dreyfuss so I was really looking forward to what they could do. This was also the feature film debut from director Naomi Foner who had written a couple of screenplays in the past, but is best known for being the mother of the talented actors, Jake and Maggie Gyllenhaal.
You would never guess this screenplay was written by a woman considering these young teenage girls have no personality and their entire lives seem to revolve around this guy they met at a beach. He is the only thing they talk about and both girls end up falling for him, which is pretty much the basic theme of this film as their friendship is tested by their personal feelings towards him. Dakota Fanning and Elizabeth Olsen play these young girls who want to lose their virginity before going to college. The guy they both fall for is played by Boyd Holbrook and I really wasn't a huge fan of his performance. I couldn't see why these girls would fall for him as he lacked personality and wasn't really charming either. Both Fanning and Olsen come from very different families. Olsen's parents are played by Richard Dreyfuss and Demi Moore who are very talkative and liberal, while Fanning's parents are played by Clark Gregg and Ellen Barkin and they are much more reserved. The parents don't get much screen time so they weren't really developed very well and all the information we gather from them is through the conversations the two girls have about how they view them (which is almost entirely negative). So that was a big let down for me because I was interested in what these actors could bring to the drama. There is nothing really that engages the audience since none of the characters have any personality whatsoever and not even the love triangle seems too appealing due to the lack of romantic chemistry. The film is only 90 minutes long but it seemed to drag forever and the score didn't help out either. I was hugely disappointed by Very Good Girls and I understand now why it took so long to reach a wider audience after the Festival.
Unfortunately the talented cast is wasted in this film and not even my appreciation for Elizabeth Olsen engaged me. I didn't even like her character very much here and much less the rest of the cast. Olsen has to find better roles because her latest films haven't exploded her potential very well. I was amazed to see how little Demi Moore and Richard Dreyfuss were used in this film; there could have been a better movie somewhere if they were given more importance. The lack of personality from any character just makes this film even more boring and tedious. There have been so many good coming of age films over the past year that this film simply fails to reach the bar that was set so high by Kings of Summer, The Way Way Back, and The Spectacular Now. This could have been an opportunity for two strong female leads but they simply didn't have much to work with.
Very Good Girls has somehow managed to get a truly noteworthy and
remarkable cast in spite of being a most mediocre, humdrum and
unremarkable film itself.
The movie is about two best girl friends during their last summer together in New York before they go off to two different colleges in the fall. As the title implies, they've been "Very Good Girls" in high school and are not overly experienced in some aspects of life making them conclude that they should lose their virginity before heading off to school. Their friendship is tested over the summer by various things -- work, family, uncertainty, tragedy -- but most of all by their mutual attraction to a handsome street artist they meet and befriend.
Dakota Fanning (I Am Sam) and Elizabeth Olsen (Martha Marcy May Marlene) play besties Lily and Gerry with Boyd Holbrook (Milk) playing their object of affection who ends up favoring one of the girls to the other. Fanning and Olsen are two of the best young working actresses in Hollywood today and I do not question their talent at all; but Olsen's five year age differential is highly apparent here making the casting in this film ever-so-slightly distracting. Richard Dreyfus (Jaws), Ellen Barkin (Sea of Love), Clark Gregg (The Avengers) and Demi Moore (Ghost) play parents of the two girls while Peter Sarsgaard (An Education) co-stars as Lily's boss and Kiernan Shipka (Sally in 'Mad Men') as her younger sister.
The first-time director, Naomi Foner, just happens to be the mother of the Gyllenhaal siblings (Jake and Maggie) which most likely helps explain why this talented cast (Sarsgaard is Foner's son-in-law) signed onto such a pedestrian, over-done script.
The story is nothing special -- and has been told many times -- but the acting in Very Good Girls is "Very Good" and solid. Everyone involved here is singularly better than the film as a whole.
First-time directors don't typically draw a cast with this much
potential and talent. For Very Good Girls, Naomi Foner has managed to
snag two of the hottest young actresses in the business right now -
Dakota Fanning and Elizabeth Olsen - and surrounded them with the likes
of Richard Dreyfuss, Demi Moore, Ellen Barkin and Clark Gregg. The more
cynical among us would put this casting coup down to Foner's Hollywood
connections: she's penned a few screenplays in her time, but is best
known as the mother of thespian siblings Jake and Maggie Gyllenhaal.
It's a shame that the final product doesn't dispel these suspicions.
The film's awkward love/lust triangle never really convinces, and Very
Good Girls spends most of its running time meandering aimlessly through
the lives of characters who remain stubbornly opaque and unlikeable.
Lilly (Fanning) and Gerry (Olsen) are best friends who've grown up together, taking refuge in each other's houses when life gets too complicated in their own homes. It's their final summer together, and both girls make a pact to lose their virginity before Lilly goes off to college. Enter David (Boyd Holbrook), an artist who enchants both girls with his good looks and charm. As Gerry develops an outsized crush on David, Lilly plunges into a relationship with him - one that she awkwardly keeps a secret from her best friend. When tragedy strikes, Lilly is overcome by guilt, and the life-long friendship that binds the two girls together is sorely tested.
The trouble with Very Good Girls is that it's built around a tired old trope - two girls fight and fall out over the love of one guy - but fails to find anything refreshing to say about it. Foner's screenplay, for all that it's written by a woman, gives little to no real insight into either girl. Lilly, in particular, feels like a hollow shell drifting through the paces of her narrative, never really connecting with either David or her sketchy, amorous boss Fitzsimmons (Peter Sarsgaard - Foner's son-in-law). It doesn't help that David, as played by the stoically colourless Holbrook, is a walking cliché - in a scene meant to pass for deeply romantic, he actually makes Lilly read him poetry by Sylvia Plath in his dingy artist's loft.
Far more interesting are the home lives Foner has constructed around the two girls. Lilly struggles to come to terms with her father Edward (Gregg) cheating on her uptight mother Norma (Barkin), and migrates to Gerry's considerably more cheery, argumentative home, presided over by the loving but loud Danny (Dreyfuss) and Kate (Moore). There's so much more here to be explored: the way the two families intersect, and how these connections feed into the girls' friendship, lives and personalities. Unfortunately, Foner shoves it all into the background, focusing instead on the unfortunate love/lust triangle that's sprung up around Lilly, Gerry and David.
Foner's cast is, at least, worth the watch, although they don't quite manage to completely salvage the film or their characters. Fanning plays Lilly as tremulously lost, and Olsen lends her own charms to an otherwise paper-thin character who feels more like a plot device than a person. Barkin comes off best out of the entire adult cast, unearthing a little of the sorrow that haunts a woman whose husband has been conducting an affair in their own home.
It should come as no surprise to anyone who watches Very Good Girls that the movie was written twenty years ago. In many ways, the film feels hopelessly outdated. Foner makes minor edits to the script to update it to the present, which largely involve Lilly never charging her mobile phone so that she can only be contacted on a landline. But, in the larger scheme of things, the film seems out of touch with the girls of its title, miring them in adolescent angst over the same boy while failing to make them stand on their own as characters.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Between Dakota Fanning and Elizabeth Olsen, it is hard to argue that
there isn't some sort of draw to this movie. After all, they are
playing two best friends in New York having their last summer together
before college. Which in itself is a nice coming of age story. But then
with the added mix of them trying to lose their virginity, it does make
you wonder if this film is going to end up insightful or relatable, or
if perhaps that angle will solely be used to get boys interested in the
Characters & Story
In the suburbs of New York City you'll find two best friends: the adventurous Gerry (Elizabeth Olsen), and her more timid friend Lily (Dakota Fanning). They have been friends for quite a while and have a strong bond, but with college around the corner, and Lily leaving for Yale, they try to make this summer one to remember. How you may ask? Well, with it being the summer they both lose their virginity.
Enter David (Boyd Holbrook). A boy who Gerry is head over heels for on first sight but, unfortunately for her, his focus is on Lily. Leading to the question: can one boy, a complete stranger, possibly ruin a multi- year friendship just because he is hot, mysterious, and willing to be in the company of both of them?
In the summer time a lot of coming of age films are released, and perhaps what makes this one a tad different is that the focus is on two girls trying to grow up and become their sense of what mature is. This is opposed to the usually coming of age films about boys, much less awkward boys, who find some girl, who is usually out of their league, and he finds a way to win her over with his charm. With this film though, the girls are given not just the focus, but aspirations for once. Gerry wants to be a musician, and while I didn't catch what Lily wanted to do at Yale, at the very least we learned she wanted to do more than lose her virginity over the summer.
And when it comes to the story as a whole, I felt that it made for something entertaining to watch. Both Fanning and Olsen make appealing leads, and you can understand their lust for Holbrook who makes a good "I'm troubled and mysterious" love interest. Plus, I must say I did like the side stories dealing with both Lily and Gerry's families. They were good enough to provide us with insight to understand why Lily and Gerry were the way they are without the parent's drama starting to compete with the main story.
I will say though, I hate the fact there was a love triangle in the film. Also, I wasn't a fan of director/ writer Naomi Foner romanticizing David's stalking into a cute love story. I mean, think of how off putting it would be if some guy tries to get your attention by pasting photos of you walking away from him around a neighborhood, and then not even asking for your phone number, but instead your address. Then, to make matters stranger, you can see Lily/ Fanning is uncomfortable with this dude and yet gives him a chance. Something which, to me anyway, may send the wrong message since usually a girl's intuition when it comes to a guy making her uncomfortable is right.
Overall: TV Viewing
If you don't over analyze the film, you'll likely love it. It has the general feel of most coming of age films, with a nice twist with having female leads. However, I do feel slightly that even with the gender switch when it comes to who is the lead, it has the same problem most coming of age films have. The girl, or rather girls, are a bit too dependent on the guy when it comes to them evolving. Which, in all honesty, I don't think neither Gerry nor Lily do in the film, evolve that is. If anything, they both fawn over David, as he seemingly plays with both, leading to the girls fighting and then making up. Which I realize is a major spoiler, but at the same time it is a story done so much that even considering that a spoiler would mean you haven't seen a coming of age film, much less a romance film, ever.
"I just wanted to make you feel better. You liked him so much." Lilly (Fanning) and Gerri (Olsen) have been best friends for years and have just graduated high school. Both are on their way to college and neither want to go there as virgins. They decide to make a pact with each other that they will both lose it before they leave. Things are going along fine until they meet and start to like the same boy. This is a plot that has been done to death. Usually though the movie is a comedy and this is a drama. The one thing this does have going for it that the others don't is great actors. The acting alone is enough to keep this from becoming too cheesy or cookie-cutter like. The movie is very predictable and again is something you have seen a hundred times but Fanning and Olsen together are a great team. There are moments that make you cry and make you angry but overall this is a movie that will give you a good feeling. Overall a movie that who's plot has been done to death but the acting makes it feel fresh. A very good coming of age movie that teen girls should watch to show what is really important in life. I give this a high B+.
Very Good Girls is the worst kind of film in the regard that its poster
and trailer allude to the idea that it will be covering loftier
subjects in the realm of teen angst, but it isn't until one finally
sees the film that they realize that every preconceived notion they had
about the film turned out to be a product of wishful, optimistic
thinking. Very Good Girls is a tiresome retread of clichés and sterile
filmmaking, one without wit or insight into the life of a teenager, and
constructing characters out of thin, threadbare personality traits
without ever giving them opportunities to expand into something
It doesn't stop there; it also places two strong talents at the core of its mediocrity. One of whom is Elizabeth Olsen, who has been on a roll with such fantastic films that she really doesn't have time for a film like this. Alongside Olsen is Dakota Fanning, a considerably successful child actor who has had a rather rough time finding adult roles now that she has moved on from her childhood career. The two play best friends Lily and Gerry, both of whom home for one last summer in their homestate of New York. Upset that they are practically the only two people who still hold their virginity, they make a pact to lose it before leaving for college. After a day at the beach, they fall in love with the first guy they say, a misunderstood, crabby soul by the name of David (Boyd Holbrook) who, despite his surly attitude when they first meet, turns out to be a quietly romantic guy, who enjoys poetry. The two begin the long, tireless task of trying to maintain a relationship with this guy behind each others back, while occasionally returning home to fight or disagree with their parents, where the film misses another bold opportunity at characterization.
To begin with, we already know so desperately little about Lily or Gerry other than they're attractive, life-long collegians who are virgins and detest the fact they are virgins. Other than that, they are as vacant as characters can be, and given this film was written and directed by a female begs the question why Naomi Foner didn't take the route of humanizing her characters. In a sea of films that seem to get adolescents wrong, particularly the females, Foner had a chance to develop female characters rich with feelings and ideas, but instead opts for them to have nothing more on their mind than some personally-lacking blonde guy who they fall head over heals in lust with for reasons never truly outlined. If a male had written and directed this film, we'd be deploring every grating opportunity to simplify these characters into outlets striving for basic human gratification and nothing more.
As stated before, even Lily and Gerry's parents have no personality to speak of, with Lily's parents having a more hardened, regressive attitude and Gerry's being more loose and liberal. Conversations between the girls and their parents last for no longer than two minutes and bear nothing in the way of identification but rather patient-testing oversimplification. Nobody in this film has an identity, and as a film about the sexual awakening of two lifelong best friends, I don't think it's wrong to expect a film that would be something in the way of deep and contemplative.
Very Good Girls is, in some ways, a poor man's version of the brilliant Norwegian film Turn Me On, Dammit!, which concerned a fifteen-year-old girl experiencing a rampant sexual awakening, full of dirty fantasies and prolific masturbation. The film showed the darker side of adolescent sexuality in a blatant manner, never sugarcoating or shortchanging and always looking to humanize and provide a lens of empathy and understanding. Very Good Girls, in comparison and on its own, is an abysmal display of emptiness in one of its most contemptible forms.
Starring: Dakota Fanning, Elizabeth Olsen, and Boyd Holbrook. Directed by: Naomi Foner.
I was expecting much more from this than I got when I finished watching
Being a long time fan of Dakota Fanning, as I suspect her performances are far above the average from girls her age and especially from her era, I was very excited to see her in a more 'mature' type of movie.
Well, I can't really say I was disappointed with the acting from the cast. I guess even that guy who played the street artist was o.k. but I was not satisfied with the development of the film. The movie was slow and then when it was almost finishing they threw it all at once and maybe it was a ~surprising~ ending once I wasn't expecting it but I was not pleased as I thought it rather silly, to be quite honest.
They were dealing with an adult theme at first which requires an adult reaction from all of the circumstances dealt in the movie and then at the very ending of it they just decided to wrap it all up with a rather silly reaction from the characters so us 'the public/audience' would be happy and content. Just typically clichè Hollywood ending while I would have preferred a million times a more realistic type of closing I guess.
And I just say so because this looks to me as an Indie film in which we generally get a more human response to human emotions played on screen (as well as in foreign films).
Of course, I know the old saying 'you can't always get what you want' but I think it's unfair to the public if they promote the movie a certain way and the final result is completely different from that. I mean that even in what concerns the trailer, the poster, every single advertising thing they do. It just has to be fair to their final public otherwise you can't even trust the filmmakers anymore because they are obviously just thinking about an easy way to cash in at your expenses.
I can't really give you more details because I'd have to tell you how it ends but watch it if you really feel like, it's NOT a complete waste of time because as I've said the characters are well portrayed by the whole cast and I can positively say now that I'll keep looking for more Dakota Fanning and Liz Olsen works in the future, they are far above the average and always deserving a much larger recognition for their roles in almost everything they do. 6/10
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This movie is something, alright. It takes the most worn-out,
done-to-death, predictable, stale, unimaginative elements from the many
other tedious indie dramas that I've suffered through, reheats them,
and tries to serve them as fresh. No dice, kiddo. Only this isn't just
a case of mouldy leftovers. No, this is pure, unadulterated, 100% ****.
Guaranteed to grow your garden, or your money back. You'd have to go a
long way to find something as soulless, brainless, meritless and
charmless as this. And by the end, I couldn't care less.
The first thing you should know is, in a SHOCKING twist, the 'very nice' girls in the title are actually pretty badly behaved. In fact, the first thing we see them do is have a skinny dip. On a crowded beach. Gee, I hope those body doubles got paid well. On their bikes during the journey home, one of them collides into a hunky ice cream man. A neon sign flashes: LOVE INTEREST above his head. He is very rude to one of them. Within a few days, they'll be having sex. Despite what the director would like us to believe, with the addition of syrupy softly-sung ballads in the background whenever the duo get within a few feet of each other, there's more chemistry in gym class than there is between these two non-entities.
I almost instantly plugged that her new beau was a STRUGGLING ARTIST, who only sold his diary treats to finance his TRUE CALLING. Ya know what? I was RIGHT ON THE NOSE!! You, see... He takes pictures of people, photocopies them into huge portraits, then sticks them on walls, the backs of buses, etc. This of course, is complete rubbish... without any artistic vision, or otherwise... But you have to remember this film is based in a parallel universe, where all bounds of normal human reaction and values are completely at odds with reality. So, needless to say, his new girl finds it 'CUTE', and he's a 'GENIUS'. Say no more.
Speaking of her, at one point she starts strumming a guitar. And I was on the edge of my seat... Waiting for those three magic words... "OPEN MIKE NIGHT". ZING!! I did it again!! Perhaps I should pick up a crystal ball, and start calling myself Madame Zorro. She also has confidence issues, and I suppose you would... Performing in front of ten people. But don't worry... her new flame gives her the strength she needs to brave the throngs. Her voice is very ordinary... But like I said, these events transpire in an alternate dimension, so we're listening to the new Madonna. SIGN HER UP!!
Richard Dreyfuss and Demi Moore drop by for an easy pay cheque... There's some kind of love rivalry going on between the two bimbos for the heart of Mr Interesting... and a bit of fractious family feuding thrown in to pad out the length. But all of this twaddle can be summed up by simply saying 'Dead Air'. It's not worth the time it takes to watch. It wasn't worth the time to type this review. In fact, it's barely worth the time it takes to put the disc in the machine.
In other words: Do something better with your life. Like, anything. 2/10
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