Sundance 2012 Review: ‘That’s What She Said’ Would Have Been Better Left Unsaid

The premise of That’s What She Said sounded like it could be funny enough, with a trio of seemingly oddball women coming together for a day of slightly mad-cap adventures throughout the streets of New York to get Bebe (Marcia DeBonis) ready for her big date that night. Things start out amusing enough with clearly neurotic Bebe constantly calling her probably still drunk from the night before best friend Dede (Anne Heche) to plan their day. Bebe is already primping at 7:30am while Dede (yes – these are their names) barely notices when she falls off her own bed making it clear that the two are polar opposites, but you get the sense that they have been friends long enough to know (and put up with) each other’s less than favorable traits.

The day gets off to a bad start with Dede already in a bad mood (although it seems she is always this way) and Bebe having taken a very upset (and constantly crying) Clementine (Alia Shawkat) under her wing. Clementine has just gone through a breakup and is not shy about sharing every (every) intimate detail of her now defunct relationship. Dede is the picture of constant support and symphony while Bebe could care less, until a sudden near run-in with an ex of her own causes the idea of Clementine joining their group the least of Dede’s concerns.

With the group now complete, they attempt to make Bebe’s various grooming appointments all over town, but run into issue along the way from sudden rain to a run in with the law to having to settle for having Bebe’s hair done at a salon in China Town (and a stylist who clearly misunderstood her instructions.) And those don’t include the gross incidents! These women do not hold back, talking about any and everything with one another, but the shock value of it wears off quickly. No matter what issues they face throughout the day, instead of really trying to help one another, each only seems to enable their bad behavior or lash out at one another when they hit a brink of frustration. Clementine complains that she gets upset when she is around people fighting and it becomes clear that Bebe and Dede were the wrong pair to get caught up with if this is the case.

Beyond the increasingly insufferable main characters and the ludicrous situations they get into, the most jarring part of the film was the constant theme of painting woman in a negative light. Hardly a single man is featured and when one is referred to, they are made to sound like the root of these women’s problems (while also being the one thing all three obsess over.) Finally at the end of her rope, BeBe laments, “Why does it always have to be so hard?” (hence the innuendo joke of a title) and rather than sympathizing with her, it just sounds like whining.

The Upside: Heche does succeed in playing unhinged with a good dose of humor (at least for a while.)

The Downside: Playing into the stereotypes of women that are either desperate to be loved or bitter from rejection, That’s What She Said leaves its main characters almost completely unsympathetic by the end of the film.

On the Side: Oh Maeby Fünke– what happened here?

Allison has always been fascinated by the power music has when paired with an image – particularly its effect in film. Thanks to a background in recording and her days spent licensing music to various productions (including, of course, movies), Allison can usually be found sticking around to see all the songs noted in a film’s credits and those listening to her iTunes inevitably ask, “What movie is this song from?”

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