Tanner Hall (2009) Poster

(2009)

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3/10
"Tanner Hall" is a coming of age snooze fest.
MovieManMenzel13 April 2010
"Tanner Hall" was a film I heard nothing about before seeing it listed on the Gen Arts website. After seeing it listed on their website, I decided to research and see who was in it and the basic premise. After reading the plot, seeing who was in the film, and then hearing it was premiered at the Toronto Film Festival, it peaked my interest enough to want to see it. I decided to attend the east coast premiere of "Tanner Hall" at the Gen Art Film Festival in NYC on Monday April 12, 2010 and this is my thoughts on the film.

The basic plot of "Tanner Hall" focuses on four girls at a private boarding school in New England. Two of these girls have been friends since childhood and the other two are just friends from the school. Together they share their feelings and emotions in a coming of age tale that you will soon forget as soon as you leave the theater...

I really wish I didn't have to be so harsh on this film especially since I saw it at a festival with most of the cast sitting around me but truth be told I really did not like this film at all. In a world where coming of age films are a dime a dozen, a writer or director need to make a film that really stands out from the others. That's where "Tanner Hall's" problem begins as there is nothing even remotely new or interesting about this film. When watching independent coming of age story you are expecting something deeper and more powerful. We do not get that at all. What the audience gets is such a lackluster story with a lot of one-dimensional characters and lack of emotion.

I think the main problem lies on the writing, which is just awful. The characters in this film are all stereotypical and one dimensional. You have the horny teacher, the cheating husband, the slutty school girl, the depressed school girl, the love confused school girl, and of course the sexually confused school girl. None of these characters are written with much depth. I feel bad saying it since it was written and directed by two friends Francesca Gregorini and Tatiana Von Furstenberg who seemed extremely passionate about the film. To me everything from the story to the stereotypical characters to the lack of character development is what really hurt this film. I felt maybe if these two passionate ladies didn't write the film but direct it or maybe vice versa it would have been a lot better.

The other issue I had was some of the actors...I don't know who's idea it was to put Chris Kattan in this film but man was he awful. This guy can barely pull off a comedy routine and this is coming from someone who somewhat enjoyed "Corky Romano" (yes I know it's a bad film...but I laughed for some reason) and they put him in a movie like this as the subtle comic relief. It just doesn't work. Also, why is Amy Sedaris in this film? What a useless role for her? She is such a gifted funny woman and in this film I just can't wait for her scene to end. Maybe it's just that the comedy aspect the directors/writers were trying to convey didn't fit the tone of the film.

As for the rest the primary cast, they all did "alright" in their roles based on what the script had to offer. Brie Larson plays basically the same role she plays on "The United States of Tara" but as I said its all the script asked of her. Rooney Mara does alright as well although I think she has more potential than this movie let on. She was really good in "Youth in Revolt," which was a good coming of age story. Georgia King should just be deemed the queen of boarding school films because if you look at her resume, she has done so many. I don't really think she did much in her role nor did I find much effort was needed to play the character. Amy Ferguson did an OK job as the sexual confused girl. And lastly, Tom Everett Scott also known as "that guy" does not offer anything at all to the film. His character is not only dull and poorly written but probably the least developed out of all the characters.

Bottom Line: "Tanner Hall" felt uninspired, long, boring and most importantly it did nothing to capture the audiences attention. I know I am just one person and it's only my opinion but being a film lover I have to say I seen better and by better I mean a lot better. I usually enjoy coming of age films and can name several good ones including "Thirteen," "Lost & Delirious," and "Emperor's Club" just to name a few. This genre especially ones that focus on boarding schools are not normally the subject to much appeal, not even in the independent film world. I hate to say it but there really isn't anything that made this film even remotely memorable. I do however feel both Francesca Gregorini and Tatiana Von Furstenberg are very passionate people and I really wish them much success in the future. I hope "Tanner Hall" is just the speed bump in their careers because it's just a coming of age snooze fest from start to finish.

MovieManMenzel's final rating for "Tanner Hall" is a 3 out of 10.
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10/10
Surprisingly Great - and Tastefully Stylized - Gal Drama
GWilliamLocke30 December 2011
We, the 99.9 percent of the world that wasn't in attendance at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival, have to consider the recent DVD release of Franny Gregorini and Tatiana von Furstenberg's gal drama, Tanner Hall, the film's public debut. So, despite being a movie filmed in late 2008 and not going public until late 2011, this super stylized drama is a 2011 film, and one of the most surprisingly fulfilling watches we sat for all year.

Staffed with a cast of A-level young talent (led by Rooney Mara, Georgia King and the sizzling Brie Larson), this New England boarding school ensemble flick rolls through scenes with no clear cut story arc, instead playing through as a glimpse into the lives of a group of A-level teen girls going through the way crazy stage of puberty, full blast. Pure fire.

We see details of relationships morphing when the new girl, Victoria (King), arrives and fearlessly stomps her way into the pack or sisters. The crew's soul captain, Fernanda (Mara), is the most powerful and interesting character, and she's brought to life with grace by the Girl With the Dragon Tats herself. It's a performance that could've maybe even been considered legendary, had only Tanner Hall been treated as a major release. Mara's moves are so good that we have to assume this was the film that helped David Fincher find his new discovery.

Imagine if Sophia Coppola rewrote the Little Women script for John Hughes in the late 80s and you'll have a good idea of the haunting appeal that is Tanner Hall. As far as film art and storytelling goes, this is one of the great surprises of 2011. An incredible mix of design, writing and performance. Better late than never.
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5/10
The misadventures of four forgettable and unrelatable teenage girls
napierslogs18 February 2012
Tanner Hall is one of those all-girl boarding schools set in the old, countryside serenity of New England. It's probably prestigious (since rich girls go there too), and literally gated. Locked on the inside and out – which seems not only inappropriate but not feasible either since somehow pizza delivery boys can get in. "Tanner Hall" is a teenage girl movie, and of course, our four main girls find no end of trouble in their small school.

A main indicator for how good (or how poor) a movie is, is how well they can reach their target audience. Despite competent casting directors, set directors, and cinematographers, "Tanner Hall" is just way too slow to really engage their youthful audience. We are slowly introduced to Fernanda (Rooney Mara), Victoria (Georgia King), Kate (Brie Larson) and Lucasta (Amy Ferguson). And then with poorly thought out drama (and no comedy) we venture forth as they struggle with coming of age.

Victoria is a trouble-maker, but one misplaced early scene ruined any chance for a strong moment of empathy for her character. Kate is a sexually adventurous trouble-maker and the one with the best chance for intrigue and suspense but she was only the third main character. Fernanda is supposed to be a good girl but then she falls into temptation with an older man. Lucasta, the fourth-billed, was struggling to figure out what kind of girl she was, wanting to understand what she was attracted to and what was attractive about her. Clearly, this is the most sympathetic character and the one that every girl could relate to in one way or another. But instead, the writers and directors made us spend most of our time with Fernanda whose extracurricular activities were not only immoral but illegal too and completely unrelatable to the normal school-age girl.

The grown-up, slowly maturing, adult version of me couldn't connect with any of the girls and found it awfully hard to sit through. The teenage girl version of me would have been able to connect to one of the girls, but it wouldn't really be worth my time.

Don't bother seeking out "Tanner Hall". Just because Rooney Mara is now famous, and an Oscar nominee, doesn't mean we need to start releasing her earlier, forgettable work.
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5/10
Becoming Women
gradyharp20 March 2012
TANNER HALL is like a very interesting puzzle delivered to the audience in pieces so disconnected that we never get a final reward form the completion of the puzzle. Written and directed by newcomers Francesca Gregorini and Tatiana von Furstenberg it has a script that seems to want to be embellished or at least reinsert what seems to be like fragments of a longer film that still dwell on the cutting room floor. But for what it is, it is an entertaining stage for the presence of some very fine actors about whom, despite the shred of information about each, we learn to care.

Tanner Hall is an all girls (with the exception of the Head Mistress's son Peter as played by Ryan Schira) somewhere in New England: the stately buildings are crumbling just like the lives of the girls who study there. Fernanda (Rooney Mara sans piercings and tattoos!) relates the story by remembering a time in her childhood when her friend Victoria (Georgia King) committed an act of meanness - allowing an old lady's pet parrot to escape. Hold that thought.

At the school Fernanda, Kate (Brie Larson) and Lucasta (Amy Ferguson0 are best friends and when Victoria is dropped off to yet another new boarding school by her abusive mother she joins the clack. From this point the entries into love, alienation, mischief, decisions about sexuality, and adultery color the fragments of the film. Gio (Tom Everett Scott) is married and expecting a baby but falls for Fernanda and the two have a challenging relationship. Lucasta must face her conflict as to her needs and rebuffs physical advances form delivery boy Hank (Shawn Pyfrom), and Kate flirts with teacher Mr. Middleton (Chris Kattan) married to the sex obsessed and frustrated Mrs. Middleton (Amy Sedaris). Victoria is left yearning for the world of relationships to make sense but not finding the path. There is the beginning of a storyline as the girls escape confinement with Victoria's theft of a key, but that eventually goes nowhere except fizzle.

The themes of the film have been used before - and will be used again: girls becoming women is a never ending source of story material. The aspect that makes this little film shine is the presence of the fine acting of Rooney Mara, Georgia King, Brie Larson, and Amy Ferguson. They are a pleasure to watch perform. Grady Harp, March 12
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Great Debut Film!
cmt-talkingpictures7 September 2011
I am not a teenage girl but after watching "Tanner Hall" I think I might know what it feels like to be one. The laser-perfect ensemble cast navigates the Terra Incognita of teenage love with rare & effortless authenticity. The look is elegant. The feel is timeless. The lighting is sublime. The shots are considered & appropriate. "Tanner Hall" is a first film & has its faults. But like the intermittent pools of light dappling its dark corridors, the film possesses a rare & uplifting spirit of redemption. Chris Kattan & Amy Sedaris are hilarious! The score is innovative & emotional. "Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" Rooney Mara is one of the stars. She's terrific. Great performances all around. Excellent Debut Film!
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Very pretty but not very substantial
lazarillo3 February 2013
As a young lad, I often fantasized about attending an all-girl boarding school in New England, or maybe someplace in Europe. However, there was always one obvious obstacle to my dream. One minor character in this movie has overcome this obstacle--he gets to attend the titular all-female institution because he is the head-mistress' son. The MAIN characters in the film though are four girls--three long-time school chums and a childhood friend of one of them, who transfers to the school and serves as kind of a catalyst for all the melodrama that follows.

There IS a goodly amount of melodrama--two of the girls get involved with older men. One (Brie Larson) flirts with her English teacher (Chris Kattan) mostly just for her own amusement, but ends up inadvertently causing great problems between him and his sexually frustrated fellow teacher/wife (Amy Sidaris). The other girl, the main protagonist (Rooney Mara) embarks on a much more serious affair with an expectant father (Tom Everett Scott), who happens to be married to her mother's best friend. A third girl has questions about her sexual identity. But perhaps the most troubled girl is the newcomer (Georgia King) whose obsession with cutting herself and history of suicide attempts are the result of childhood trauma that is alluded to early on, but not revealed until the end.

Let me say first off that if the very many high-school age girls looked like Rooney Mara and Brie Larson, pretty much all adult heterosexual men would be in jail right now. But this movie was directed by two women, so it never really veers too much into exploitation territory. This would not necessarily be a liability if it worked better as a straight drama, but all the characters remain undeveloped as individuals and never really gel as a group. The movie also really tries to cover too much in 90 minutes, going into the lives of all four girls AND several of the adults (particularly the two teachers played Kattan and Sedaris). It's hard to fault any of the actors here though. Rooney Mara, for instance, would go on to play another sexy schoolgirl in "Youth in Revolt" before hitting the big-time with the US version of "Girl with a Dragon Tattoo". She's achingly lovely in this movie, but--like everyone else--not a fully developed character you can care much about. Her character is kind of indicative of the whole movie--very pretty, but somehow not very substantial.
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4/10
several problems
SnoopyStyle4 December 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Fern (Rooney Mara) returns to the all-girls boarding school Tanner Hall in New England for the new school year. She is still haunted by a childhood incident when Victoria let her grandmother's bird free. Victoria (Georgia King) comes to school after years without seeing Fern. She is a lying troublemaker causing havoc for Fern and her friends. Kate (Brie Larson) is a flirt. Lucasta (Amy Ferguson) likes to draw and is reserved. The Middlewoods (Chris Kattan, Amy Sedaris) run the school and teach. Gio (Tom Everett Scott) is Fern's mother's friend's husband who takes Fern out on day trips.

There is an OK dark mean-girls Lolita film somewhere here. The 4 girls do a reasonable job but the movie goes wrong real quick. The moment that Chris Kattan starts knocking down doors in the girls' shower is when the movie goes wrong. It's stupid. Quite frankly, Chris Kattan is a bad actor. He and Amy Sedaris seem intend on making a broad slapstick comedy which is completely different than what the 4 girls are doing. These two directions do not mix.

Then I don't get Gio signing out Fern. What exactly does her mother or his wife think is going on? It's not like they can hide the sign outs. As for the key, wouldn't Mrs. Middlewoods figure out that Victoria made a copy? The movie seems to insist that the Middlewoods are foolish cartoon characters. Also wouldn't Fern talk to Peter after she figured out Victoria's lies? That's a much needed missing scene. Chris Kattan sunk this movie and all the later problems don't help.
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A minor film where the minor characters shine.
brunettewarrior28 December 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I had never heard of this film before, so I gave it a go. The opening scene hooked me. It is very relatable. To see how Rooney looked before her major transformation was perhaps the most shocking thing about the film for me. She looked beautiful!

My favorite characters turned out to be the minor characters. Her friends, Kate, played by Brie Larson, and Lucasta, played by Amy Ferguson, were the standouts. I was surprised to see Chris Kattan in a film like this, but his performance was outstanding. Same goes for Tom Everett Scott.

This is called a coming-of-age tale, but really it's not that epic. It's small, quiet, and frankly chilling at parts, but it is worth an honest watch.
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8/10
Tanner Hall
Evelynarchuleta8 November 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Tanner Hall

"Tanner Hall" directed by Francesca Gregorini, and Tatiana Von Furstenberg is one of the most dramatically intense movies of this generation. It uses extreme situations to show more about teen life. As a teenager I loved it. I also liked that "up and coming" actress Rooney Mara was in it.

Even though some of the events may never happen in real life it still is extremely intriguing. It shows a different area then what I'd been used to. There were some scenes I could relate to and others I couldn't but that made it highly interesting to see life from a different perspective. For example, a quote from the movie is "Lose your way. Find yourself." In the movie, the characters are constantly evolving; becoming more mature.

Truthfully, what I really enjoyed about this movie was how different it is from my life there were some similarities, but it was quite enjoyable to see how other teens act. You saw them grow up some experimented with drugs, others with boy's. It was also interesting seeing Boarding school from a students perspective because I have been to regular school all my life. One part in the movie, they sneak out to go to a fair, this reminds me of a time when I was staying at a friends house and her, and a few other people, and me snook out and went to an abandoned house.

On the other hand, certain individuals (one's who do not appreciate amazing movies) might not like it because the climax doesn't happen until the end and there is a lot of character building. These "certain individuals" also might like to connect to the movie more, or to have more in common with the characters. Some of the characters may have been a little common.

Honestly, it interested me that they put Rooney Mara who is now famous for "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo". I thought she was perfect for this role the characters personality seemed to be very similar to her own. I loved seeing her in this movie and then seeing her in "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" because it was amazing to see the difference in how she looked.

Overall, it was an amazing movie, especially with a 3,000,000 dollar budget. I was a little worried when it didn't come out until a year after it was finished, but I definitely enjoyed it. Now go and watch it, and prepare to be amazed!
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8/10
An enjoyable coming of age story.
JimmyCollins19 December 2011
The draw card to Tanner Hall for me was Rooney Mara and Brie Larson, I really like Rooney in everything she has done and Brie is a scream in U.S.O.T, so I wasn't disappointed when I watched Tanner Hall. Yes it's kind of a story we have seen before, four young girls are facing the challenges of adult hood in different ways, they realize some things in life have consequences and sometimes those consequence aren't worth it. They are students at a country side boarding school that is very strict and only seems to inhabit star pupils.

To me this movie has a very Sofia Copploa vibe to it, it seemed to me like a cross between The Virgin Suicides and the Eva Green film Cracks, the music, the colors, the actors, the setting, they all have a very Sofia Copploa tone to them, it's very atmospheric in that aspect. Georgia King is really the only character I didn't enjoy, she's so selfish and unhappy in her own life that she decides to bring everyone else down with her, but I suppose she's not a character that you're meant to like, King should tread very carefully as she is in danger if being typecast ad the bitchy English girl at a boarding school as she played a similar role in Wild Child. If there was one story I would have liked to see more it would have been Lucasta's sexual acceptance, it's a story that is I'm sure very common in all girl schools.

Rooney Mara is so impressive, she is perfectly understated in her role, not too much, not enough, just right, and Brie Larson does her sassy attitude thing splendidly. I also loved Chris Kattan and Amy Sedaris, they brought so much humor to a serious film, and the director knew just when to have them in a scene, they were used to perfection.

I'm not a girl and I enjoyed this film, but I have to say this is really only one for the gals, but it's great no matter what, highly recommended.
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9/10
Outstanding
aimless-469 September 2013
Warning: Spoilers
"Tanner Hall" is basically "Wild Child" meets "Girl Interrupted", if you enjoyed "Cracks" you should seek out this film. It is an extremely modest production but the entire budget makes it onto the screen, the four main characters were realistically developed, and the four actresses playing them were well directed. Amy Sedaris plays a secondary character who effectively provides a necessary comic relief, thereby leaving the four main characters free of something that could have tainted their connections to the viewer.

Fernanda (Rooney Mara) has the standard Winona Ryder part and the storytelling is essentially from her character's point of view, with the same voice-over narration of Ryder's character in "Girl, Interrupted". Rooney's acting has an ephemeral quality that transforms ordinary scenes into something special, perhaps best illustrated by her nonverbal reaction to discovering Victoria alone and crying in the rest room. The editor explains this through Fernanda's voice-over, but the scene has already communicated Fern's shifting attitude as she processes her unexpected connection with Victoria's vulnerability.

The climatic scene in which Fernanda becomes protective of the bullying Victoria (Georgia King) did not entirely ring true - it was perhaps too extreme - Victoria's mother needed a better build-up. But I find scenes where a seemingly weaker girl becomes protective of a stronger one to be irresistible, probably become they challenge a viewer's preconceptions.

And challenging viewer preconceptions is what "Tanner Hall" is all about. Like "Welcome to the Dollhouse", this is a film more about what is happening inside each viewer as they watch the film than about what is actually happening on the screen. Your reaction and the film's entertainment value will have a lot to do with your own experiences at that age or at least your sympathetic awareness of the difficulties that some of your classmates were experiencing. Meaning that if you don't connect and are not mildly blown away by the understated realism, then you and your friends simply weren't dysfunctional enough.

Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.
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5/10
Not that exploitive for a coming of age drama. You might want to pass on this film.
JohnRayPeterson21 December 2011
Warning: Spoilers
The storyline that goes something like…A coming of age story of teen-age girls in a preppy boarding school, and the R rating, had me believing there would be sex involved and some nudity, which similar basic plots usually have. It was a somewhat serious story, the way it unfolded and how it was written; the script had some narrative that sounded at times more like 'monologuing' than narrative, but it's okay, though I prefer narrative to be more traditional. Of course, I was right about the nudity and the sex, but it did not feel exploitive. The lead, Rooney Mara was twenty four when the movie was made and so playing an 18 year old was sort of a squeeze. She delivered what I think the role called for, but needs to improve her diction by enunciating (something the director should have corrected); I find the near mumbling unacceptable for a lead actor, even if it's not constant. Exception for Nick Nolte who does it on purpose for effect. I trust Mara has had better direction in her massive new role as the new Lisbeth Salander; she was much better in Social Network.

Anecdotally, I think I noticed a slight barely perceptible squint/cross when Mara was looking to the side. Rachel Weis use to have that when she stared directly at co-stars (it has since been corrected apparently) and I find that gives a certain allure, a wile one might say; it's the minor imperfections that attract us to some people more than others I once read.

None of the principal actresses played characters which had a joyful or happy life. The boarding school for well to-do young girls was their home. There was a narrative line by Mara I will hopefully recall when I need it, because it was a simple but perfect description of the school and also made for a good metaphor… "Tanner Hall is majestic but crumbling". Given the building's size, architecture and age, this was the best and most fitting description.

The other three close schoolmates were also attractive. Only two characters had sympathetic roles, Mr. Middlewood, played by Chris Kattan, and Hank, played by Shawn Pyfrom. Kattan had a more important supporting role as a literature professor; I think he was picked because his character was one who was seriously being teased for arousal by one of his student, Kate played by Brie Larson, and also by his wife played by Amy Sedaris. The Middlewoods attempt at sex was a riot; without them the movie would have been a little too boring for me. The affair between Mara and Tom Everett Scott, who played Gio, was so predictable in all aspects that I found little interest in it. You might want to pass on this film; I watched it all because I have an appetite for quantity almost as much as I do for quality. You would want to see it if you watch an inordinate quantity of movies, otherwise pass.
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1/10
The Facts of Life Movie Rated B (for boring)
bustedknee30 May 2013
Through the years I have seen many movies about kids in high school, kids in private school, kids in military school, kids in camp, kids on a ball team, and kids in a dance group. This is not one of those movies.

I searched for an outstanding personality, in a field of superb acting by the girls, but could not find one. Generally, the main actor "makes" the movie for me and this movie, it seems, did not have one. Kids coming of age almost always presents an interesting story and, I suppose if I had been a poor little rich girl that attended private school in New England, this movie may have appealed to me. But it made little sense, otherwise. This movie seemed to be more of a few days in the life of, rather than a complete story. The Facts of Life Movie, rated R, might be a better project for the producers.
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wanna see Rooney Mara at her glam best? no Dragon Tattoos!
RavenGlamDVDCollector24 April 2016
Oh, that cold old new movie THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO. All excited about it, people flock to see. What for? What's so great about it? It's dark and stark and Rooney Mara had to cut off her hair for the part. An ugly, unattractive part. So, it brought her success. But it's a crappy movie. Well, to each their own, if it lights up your life, I'll try to be happy for you.

But I prefer my birds to be bright and chirpy and flying about fluttering like cute little angels. Which is not exactly the character Rooney portrays, but you get my drift. I mean, just look at lovely, lovely Rooney in the opening sequence as she gets driven to school by her mother, chewing a piece of gum, much to Mom's chagrin. She looks like a cuter version of Elisha Dushku. She has a cheekbone structure to die for. Has got to be one of the prettiest actresses on film. Hell, people, if I looked like that, and they offered me like gazillion bucks to appear in a hit movie, I'd think about what I'd miss every time I passed a mirror. And, on top of that, the even better part that would have come her way anyway, so scrooo your dragon tattoo offer...! That scene with Rooney with the guy and the car amidst the autumn leaves, makes me think of an ad campaign with the slogan 'it doesn't get any better than this.' This is a small movie, with a bad girl that really isn't well-defined, as the Georgia King portrayal turns out to be ultimately toothless. The more well-defined bad girl, the naughty one, the Brie Larson portrayal, as Kate, is more the one that does something awful. She gets banished from the script, unsatisfactorily so. Roller-skating in place, an untimely dismissal...

There are some laughable performances. Amy Sidaris and her weakling hubby should have been recast. What were they thinking, those two were a wrecking crew. Georgia King was a storm-in-a-teacup kind of adversary. She should have upped her game play at least tenfold. Brie Larson was excellent. Anybody who could come to class (barely-)dressed up for the plum female part of A Midsummer Night's Dream looking like that, wow! But apart from her obvious beauty, she was also entirely convincing.

Plot has its weak points, but for a dedicated girl-watcher, lots to cheer about. Loads more fun than TGWTDT.

The decaying, crumbling castle was an excellent choice of location. Does it really exist? No such place found on Google.

I forgot the actress's name, but the woman who played the mean mom, at the time of watching, I thought she'd have made a perfect Alexis Carrington had they done a DYNASTY remake.
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