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|Index||22 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Wow. Saw this on Netflix the other day and it blew my mind, purely
because it paints a vividly real portrait of white privilege, U.S.
racial stereotypes and adolescent recklessness/naivety.
I'd best describe White Girl as Thirteen meets Kids meets Crazy/Beautiful. It's gritty, confronting and never shies away from giving the viewer a realistic portrayal of how the actions of a careless white girl can cause collateral damage to a community, all the while riding the wave of privilege.
This is Elizabeth Wood's first feature film, which is made even more impressive when I learned it's semi-autobiographical. She doesn't shy away from projecting Leah in a negative light and her character is far from admirable, highlighting Elizabeth's dedication to her craft above all else. (Btw, this is coming from a feminist's perspective I'm mentioning this because I've seen White Girl labeled as misogynistic, which I don't think is the case at all.)
Leah is intentionally flawed and difficult to read. For the bulk of the film she's thinking about her own self interests first and foremost, whether it's getting her next hit, fetishizing her hot drug dealer neighbor Blue, recklessly losing $24k in drug money or blurring the lines with her boss at a magazine internship.
That being said, Leah's not completely soulless and does make attempts to redeem herself by helping to get Blue out of jail and on one occasion makes a fleeting attempt to return drugs to Blue's supplier. It's just not enough for you to sympathize for her character. Saylor's portrayal of Leah wasn't anything ground breaking, but at the same time I don't think it needed to be. All she had to highlight was that doll faced white girls can be dangerous too, and she does that effectively.
Brian Marc on the other hand blew me away! Like Wood, he has relatively few film projects under his belt but his performance in White Girl is well up there with the seasoned elite. The stare he gives in his final scene is everything. Brian's performance helps viewers realize he's not playing some wannabe G fu**boy drug dealer, he's playing someone far more vulnerable than that.
What Leah sees as meaningless fun, Blue sees as a form of stability and something serious. Leah has zero responsibilities whereas Blue deals as a means to support his family and to escape his circumstance. She sees sex, while he sees a future. Leah encourages him to be as wild and reckless as she is but fails to foresee how her preferential treatment in the justice system means she comes out unscathed while Blue winds up in jail.
The last five minutes really encapsulate this. Leah might be forever traumatized by the events that took place that summer but she gets to continue on with her life like nothing happened. Meanwhile, Blue will no doubt be reminded every living day as he (likely) serves out a murder sentence that didn't need to happen, had it not been for Leah's careless, selfish actions.
The scariest thing about this movie is its realness.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The movie starts out very real for the most part. It's like a very
warped episode of the series Girls, a show I feel was written well
because it's honest portrayal of real people, but it's a show that I
dislike because I really know those people, and don't like them. That
gives me an odd feeling about the characters of White Girl, which
include a young college age girl named Leah moving into "the Hood", a
place she only witness on a Jay Z album. She walks around with that
privilege attitude as she approaches the local Latino drug dealer , who
she starts a sexual relationship with. So far the movie is doing a good
job at making me unsure what stereotypes I should feel sorriest for.
Then the realness of White Girl becomes more movie like. The trailer shows that realness of a young girl out in the world exploring her wild side, but the movie itself becomes about Leah's drug dealer boyfriend going to jail and Leah trying to get him out using the drugs he left behind. Though what I describe seems like a zany comedy, White Girl is a very intense ride on a downward spiral.
It is funny watching Leah going in over her head as she basically learns how the world she now lives in works. At the same time, the film is filled with these vivid images of violence and sex, but especially sex.
But White Girl is a movie I enjoined watching, It's not the art house cinema I thought it would be, and as it started out to be, turning much more into a much more typical "indi" product that cheapens the experience, at the same time making it far more enjoyable for me.
First time writer-director Elizabeth Woods delivers a raw, energetic, and downright uncomfortable tale about a young college student named Leah, who moves to the big apple and finds love in one of the local drug dealers named Blue, one night of partying later finds the two separated as he's arrested on possession of narcotics, and that's 3 strikes for him, and Leah must do whatever she can to be reunited with him. It's an ugly and uneasy look at white privilege, and the self destruction of such a young, promising girl who just can't seem to stay away from taking the trip down the white brick road. This is a roaring directorial debut from Elizabeth Woods, and quite the controversial, personal one at that.
This is an interesting film, one with probably more potential for future greatness than actual rewatch value. The acting is top notch all around, from the two leads who go through many changes to the lawyer who has truly seen it all delivering a chilling speech about black people in jail. A very promising debut from a female director that knows her stuff, from the moment doves fly away when two lovers are reunited or that moment when the camera gets tired of watching the white girl getting taken advantage of too many times and hides from the scene behind a wall before going back to a mirror reflection of said image. While at times playing like a softcore porno a la Game of Thrones and there are too many sex scenes just thrown around, the drama is intact and the WAY that the story is told is very compelling.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It is hard to talk about a film like this, one that is full of tropes,
clichés, and ideas that have been done hundreds of times before, to
much better effect. Reading the description, I instantly knew what I
was in for and what was going to happen in this film. And I wasn't
These tales of youth are dime a dozen, and this doesn't really bring a whole lot of anything new to the table. It has the typical emotional beats one would expect from a film like this. Girl ends up on wrong side of the tracks. Goes crazy, bad things happen, blah blah.
I know right now it sounds like I am ragging on this but truth is, I quite enjoyed it. At the very least all that I ask from a film is to give me characters I can care about and become interested in. And this film certainly gave me that. I don't really know why, but the way Leah's downward spiral was portrayed was downright hypnotizing at times.
And then there's the ironic ending and final scene, which really elevated this film from a 6 to a 7 for me. Leah's struggle was certainly real, and her journey of addiction that leads to rape among other things, was certainly tumultuous. And yet, nothing really truly devastating ever happened to her. I faulted that to bad writing, but really that's the whole point. After getting out of jail, her boyfriend almost immediately ends up back in custody, for killing in self defense. After all that hard work and trauma Leah subjected herself to, to get him out, and it's all in vain. And Leah herself? Well, nothing happens to her. The final shot is her just sitting in class, life moving on as normal. Which for as simple as it sounds, that scene held A LOT of impact and brought new depth to the whole of the film.
I definitely read it as some commentary on white privilege. Her Latino boyfriend ends up in jail facing many years for just mere possession, whereas the ubiquitous white girl not only possesses, but sells copious amounts of drugs, and she never even once has so much as a finger pointed her way, let alone an arrest.
Maybe I am reading into it too much, but that scene really changed everything for me. I've seen many films like this before, but this was a particularly arresting tale of an archetypal white person who rejects a life of privilege in favor of a hard knock life. Why? Who knows. This film isn't about why. It's about consequences. Or rather, the lack of consequences some people will/won't have to face, due to status and color of skin.
Firstly, I love this movie and I laughed at another review where someone said the characters were awful and he hated them so he voted it a 1 star. My take is that the lead character was awful, and stupid, and foolhardy, and not a little seedy. But that's because Morgan Saylor worked so very hard to bring that character to life. She reminded me of a young Michelle Williams: totally lacking self- consciousness and totally absorbed into the role. The story of course is sleazy and sordid, and the characters are all making poor decisions and have values that don't match wider society's. But that's the whole point, it's telling again the story of young teens growing up in this drug ridden world and how easy it is to sink lower and lower into depravity in your quest for the next high. There is of course racial undertones right through the movie and the end point is massively telling. America will probably never be rid of racism and probably never rid of drugs either...the world never changes. Brilliant watch, great story, fantastic directing and beautiful acting. I loved this film.
Thematically, White Girl is exactly what it says on the tin, it's about
race, and about gender. It's an attempt at outlining the main
character's naivety and her ability to come out of it unscathed as a
result of her privilege. An idea that, if it wasn't already obvious
enough, Elizabeth Wood beats us over the head with in the scene where
Leah has dinner with the lawyer.
White Girl is unapologetically feminist, and being directed by a woman, it gets a lot of this right, Leah isn't a trope, she's not a stereotype, she's a naive young girl who makes a lot of really, really terrible decisions. But while this is the basis of her character, the protagonist, as well as the rest of the people in this film, are only explored on a surface level. Meaning that it's difficult to care about what they do, or what happens to them. Especially Leah, who knows that as a pretty white girl, there's a lot that she can get away with, and come out unharmed. And we know that too.
Not only is White Girl difficult to get pulled in to as a result of its lack of a real sense of consequence, it also seems to push us away with its sloppy attempt at shock cinema. Every other scene is someone snorting coke, getting their tits out, or puking their guts up (is there anyone in this movie who doesn't do drugs?) Some of the comments on sexuality, especially female sexuality are interesting, and there's clearly a lot to say here about the male gaze and the danger of that towards young women, but then the gratuitous sex scenes never stop in an attempt to shock us, and we lose interest.
As a drug dealer drama, and a comment on race, Wood hits all of the tropes that we'd expect. Many of the characters are stereotypes, and the writing for the male drug dealers sounds like it was written by my dad, guessing how he things a drug dealer probably talks. The attempts at making the love interest more of a love interest and less of a sex interest were hilarious at times, this movie just couldn't get the dialogue right for those characters at all, it was awkward as hell.
White Girl was summed up for me when Doug from The Hangover got cocaine snorted off his dick.
Just saw the movie White Girl. This is one that I'll have to spend some time thinking about. Very controversial, even pornographic at points. Cultures clash in unexpected ways when a couple of white college girls move into a Latino neighborhood and start hanging out with the local drug dealers. Reminiscent of the German film Victoria (it almost seems to be a remake of sorts except not shot all in one take) with a touch of Spring Breakers (if you haven't seen that one don't be fooled by the title, it's pretty horrific), all wrapped up in Project X I suppose. Nothing is romanticized here, especially not the inevitable tragic ending which is the ultimate statement about white privilege.
Unlike most reviewers I saw this movie with intimate knowledge of
street life, and the director got a whole lot right there. And as well,
I've known noobs like the lead actress who got themselves into a life
about which they knew very little until they were so deep in so fast
they couldn't get back out. So with that, I was on my seat edge as our
heroine went from precipice to precipice, nearly always avoiding the
fall. Without a spoiler alert, she does virtually everything in this
film you could to get killed or maimed and the writer/director finds
ways for her to fail yet survive.
There's a lot of grit here, from hard parties to transactional activities between employer and employee, and then client and counsel. It was all done very realistically, scarily so in many cases.I would love to know where the writer/director got her adviser on street sales - whoever it was really knew the game. See this movie.But be prepared to be scared, if you know the streets.
Likened to Larry Clark's controversial Kids, White Girl sheds light on
an often known, but cloaked, New York City lifestyle, riddled with
malice and a fleeting sense of love and acceptance. Morgan Saylor's
performance is reminiscent of Rachel Miner in Clark's Bully, and her
wanton romance with co-star Brian Marc offers viewers a titillating
look into the makings of a bad romance. Director Elizabeth Wood seems
to have a similar taste in story and directing style as Clark, and,
following this directorial debut, her future filmography seems
The story delves deep into the examination of 'white privilege' and the grips of a disadvantaged, urban class. While the romance between Saylor and Marc's characters may seem fanciful and impractical, Wood invites us to suspend our disbelief and open our eyes to an alarming reality that faces millennials in love. And by the film's end, just like Saylor's character, Leah, we are left asking what we would do in the name of love. The on screen chemistry between all of the characters seemed genuine, believable, and compelling.
The most enjoyable aspects of the film were letting go as a viewer and following a seemingly ordinary college student into a dark world characterized by drugs, sex, and, what should be, reggae-ton. It's not a world many have traversed, but one that has aimed to seduce many of us in our youths. The soundtrack accompanying the scenes makes the film feel like a celluloid of simultaneous nostalgia and insanity. Can a young, White girl attending college in New York fall into the hands of a charming drug dealer? The plot is far from implausible, as some of the scenes may lead on, and it's a journey that at times is ugly and rife with melancholy.
The film does not bear much re-watch value, but it does hold strong as the first edition in a hopefully favorable series of films that explore the "underground" of urban teens and their escapades.
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