Directed by: Elizabeth Wood
Starring: Morgan Saylor, Brian ‘Sene’ Marc, Justin Bartha
Rotten Tomatoes: 70%
What was it about?
Browsing Netflix on a cold winters night, I surprisingly came across a movie that I hadn’t watched and didn’t dislike by the poster. White Girl is a film I had heard about on the fringes but never generated the specific buzz needed for me to watch it plus it didn’t necessarily get a UK wide release.
Netflix describes White Girl as “A college girl romping through New York City in search of cocaine and other highs finds something real to grasp, only to see it potentially slip away.” The synopsis is an excellent description of the film which explores the complex, almost stupid hedonistic stage of early adulthood where you push your morals to the limit as a sort of self- exploration period- but in this case, the film explores what happens when you completely lose yourself.
What did I like?
What makes the film interesting and shocking, is the graphic scenes of partying and “frolicking.” The director Elizabeth Wood did not shy away from portraying the dark, dingy party lifestyle of Morgan Saylor’s character Leah. Her style is something to be admired, and something that polished mainstream movies seem to lack, there is a raw gonzo style quality to the film, that makes it look like you are following the characters around.
This shocking and documentary style of the movie is similar to that of Harmony Korine’s and Larry Clarkes 1995 hedonistic teen drama Kids. You could compare Kids to White Girl in so many ways, they are both set in New York City and are about teens dabbling in hedonistic behavior regarding sex and substance abuse. However the subject matter is so sensitive and disturbing that there isn’t a bank of well-made films that tells this kind of story well, so despite the similarities, it is still one to keep in the bank.
Who gave the best performance?
Actress Morgan Saylor who looks 16 but is 22, gave the best performance as the waif, drug-taking, art student Leah. Morgan Saylor deserves to be commended, the raunchy role of Leah required a precise mixture of nativity and innocence layered within a devious, hedonistic, fun time girl. The bottom line is Leah’s character is essentially innocent, and she does everything with the best intentions, but the drugs always get in the way of any clarity she may have. Morgan Saylor does a terrific job in neither creating a villain or a saint out of her character, but rather a human with both negative and positive characteristics, stuck in a situation that is out of control.
What sort of movie is this?
White Girl isn’t for the faint-hearted for the easily shocked movie watcher; this would be an hour 30 minutes of pure filth and sin.If you like films that are character explorations, hedonistic and somewhat avant-garde White Girl, would be a movie I recommend you watch, but not with your parents.
Watch in the cinema or watch on DVD?
The film White Girl originally premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, after which, Netflix acquired worldwide video on demand distribution rights to the movie, It was released on Netflix on December 2nd. So with independent films like White Girl it would be best to watch them online, Netflix is providing a new avenue for independent films such as White Girl to gain a larger audience.