Sunday, May 13, 2012

Girl In Progress (2012)

PG-13, 1 hr. 30 min.  Directed By:  Patricia Riggen.  Release Date:  May 11, 2012.

In a lot of ways, Progress does for coming of age movies what Scream did for horror:  it acknowledges the formula while failing to deviate from it.  For me, both movies did something interesting in that they created a story wherein the main characters were very cognizant of both the method of their own madness, and in a more passive way, the Fourth Wall.  In this case, watching a girl not only go through the coming of age that we all go through, but force the process along at an enhanced pace, was a great… addition to the established formula.  And let’s face it, coming of age stories are a dime of dozen, whether we’re talking film or novels.

I love Eva Mendes’ character, Grace.  She clearly loves her daughter deeply, and just as clearly doesn’t know how to interact with her because Grace’s own mother was a terrible parent and she never had the role model she needs to be a decent parent.  She has, in essence, become the same terrible parent that she herself despised; the same parent that caused her to run away from home with her newborn daughter at 17.  I’m also going to repeat that Mendes isn’t beautiful in the traditional way, but she is crazy sexy.  I like Cierra Ramirez’ portrayal of Ansiedad, and I could even empathize with her in a way.  I, too, am saddled with a name I hate, although hers is worse than mine. 

I was surprised how much I loved this movie, even as the story unfolds and the tale grows deeper and deeper into cliché and well-established patterns that end with a cloying sweetness that still had me smiling.  In some ways, I think that we all might be better off if we did research and decided to design the path to life experience that transitions us from child to adult.  In other ways, I was a little horrified how frankly “Ann” went about her path and how little she gave thought to the consequences of her actions.  The research should have taught her that this path is fraught with problems, even when done naturally over the course of years.  When you compress that time line into a matter of (I think) three weeks, those consequences should have been exacerbated. 

I’m thinking that this movie isn’t going to be for everyone.  I live in Dallas, and yesterday, when I went to see Dark Shadows, the theater was packed.  Today, I was one of three people in the theater.  I do think that this vague twist on a classic story made for a great movie, and it may be that a lot of people will go out and see this with their mothers.  Well, I think a lot of women will go out and see this with their mothers this weekend.  I mostly went to see this to provide some diversity in my blog posts, but I’m very glad I did.

If I have a complaint, it's that there's a LOT of dialogue here that would have been more natural in Spanish with subtitles than in English.  A nod to middle America was the death blow for realism.