Very Good Girls Review: Friendship, Betrayal & Dakota Fanning's Butt Double
From the title of the movie itself, Very Good Girls, seems to give a wink-nod to its hopeful audience. The title playfully implies that there will be at least an emotional payoff for accepting an obviously not-true title. To be sure, there’s some naughty behavior going down in this film, but it’s nothing out of the ordinary for a coming-of-age tale. The naughtiness in this story feels contrived. This is a movie about a love triangle that should have never existed because it fails to stir up any passion at all from an audience standpoint.
Very Good Girls is Naomi Foner’s first effort at helming a feature film. She wrote Running on Empty (River Phoenix 4Eva) back in the 1980s. Foner also happens to be the mom of Maggie and Jake Gyllenhaal, which may help explain why Maggie’s husband, Peter Sarsgaard, signed on to play the creeper boss of Dakota Fanning. According to Foner, this film was almost made several years ago with Kristen Stewart and Jennifer Lawrence in the lead roles. Neither Stewart nor Lawrence were big enough names at the time, and financing efforts stalled. So, we’re getting this film now, and it feels like an excuse for finally-old-enough Fanning to show the world her naked ass (via a butt double — I couldn’t resist checking) in a movie that otherwise looks like a “Cotton, The Fabric of Our Lives” commercial.
Short version: Dakota Fanning and Elizabeth Olsen go skinny dipping together. Then Dakota Fanning gets it on with Boyd Holbrook with the slurpiest kisses known to cinema.
Here’s the longer version: Best friends Lily (Fanning) and Gerri (Elizabeth Olsen) just graduated from high school. These two
stock female characters pals are enjoying one last summer together before they head off to different universities. Life is amazing, but they feel really awkward about the virgin thing. Lily is reserved and Gerry is outgoing, but they both want to shed their innocence. They decide they’d both better do it (with dudes, not with each other … such a shame) before the first autumn leaf hits the ground. It’s kind of an American Pie thing with (somehow) less charm.
Both young women both end up falling in lust with the same poetry-loving ice cream man (and “artist”), David (Boyd Holbrook, who is the most generic blonde hunk in the universe). He’s the embodiment of the sensitive hunk cliché. Every girl in the world falls in love with David, and both Lily and Gerry assume he’ll end up with Gerry. But David decides he wants Lily, and she doesn’t have anything (or anyone) better to do than him. Lily bangs David on a garage floor — swoon — and keeps the news from Gerry. Lies, secrets, and more lies threaten the very foundation of friendship, but of course Lily and Gerry make up in time for one last naked jaunt together.
This coming-of-age drama (emphasis on the drama) isn’t so much about maturation as it about friendship … and what happens when two friends test their friendship to the limits. This movie’s notion of friendship itself is bullsh*t of course — because true friends would never let Boyd Holbrook come between them. We also don’t know why David likes Lily over Gerry — that’s never explained. Lily herself seems like a thoughtful young lady, but we never know the reasons for her actions. She simply lets others make their moves, and she reacts. No initiative there at all. Gimme some motivation already.
Lily and Gerry don’t exist inside a perfect vacuum, believe it or not. Their families are a momentary trip. Ellen Barkin plays Lily’s uptight mom while Clark Gregg plays Lily’s dad, who is cheating on Ellen Barkin (I know). Gerry’s hippie-ish parental units are played by Demi Moore and Richard Dreyfus. These stark family dynamics only take up screen time to explain Lily and Gerry’s differing personalities. Fine. But I’d love to know why Lily knows that her dad’s banging some strange on the side, yet she decides it’s perfectly okay to bang the dude that her best friend wants.
Very Good Girls isn’t a bad movie for a TBS rerun, but it makes a fatal presumption — friendship doesn’t mean much compared to some silly, virginity-losing resolution. And for some slice of Wonder Bread that’s supposed to be some hot, sexy male? The betrayal is so easily forgotten by the film’s happy ending that it makes these girls look like complete idiots. Oh well. Go Hollywood. There’s nothing special or poignant or even illuminating about this film. The three main characters of the love triangle don’t make sense. Two friends who know everything about the others’ lives are suddenly divided by a ridiculous man, a fantasy of some nondescript dude who not only has bulging biceps and glorious locks but will also recite Sylvia Plath for no f*cking reason at all. This movie feels like an R-rated way for Fanning to assert her adulthood by “taking off” her clothes (since she’s finally of age), but it’s a shameful waste of her talent. Especially since she doesn’t even really take it off.
Bedhead lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She can be found at Celebitchy.
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