It’s possible that bad films — the kind that inspire rage and blackout anger and sputtering misunderstanding — can grow on you. It happens all the time. Even a film like Bachelorette, which sent me into a rage haze back at 2012’s Sundance Film Festival, does’t rile me up so much anymore, and I’ve even come around on the ballsiness of the film, even if it didn’t “work” for me and even if I don’t think it actually earned all its ugliness.
Another Sundance film, from just one year later, doesn’t fare quite as well in memory, however. Naomi Foner‘s Very Good Girls actually has some stuff in common with Bachelorette — it’s a movie about friendship for people who hate their friends, or who at least grow to over the course of one hell of a formulaic outing. Dakota Fanning and Elizabeth Olsen star in the feature as life-long best pals who form a pact (lose their virginities before heading off to college!), only to find it (and their relationship) thrown for a loop when they both set their sights on the same dude, played by Boyd Holbrook. An obvious storyline, complete with shocking!! (read: not shocking) other developments pushes the film haltingly along, until everyone feels kind of bad and really unfulfilled. And now it’s got a trailer! Let’s take a peek.
Well, hell, that actually looks good. Did they edit the film? Or is this just a very good trailer for Very Good Girls?
Back at Sundance 2013, I wrote that “Foner’s film does throw a few wrenches into this now-standard formula – namely that both girls are virgins looking for someone to change that before they head off to college, and that only one of the girls is aware that she’s involved in a love triangle – but it’s otherwise just another destructive addition to a genre of romance films that needs to go away, or at least be handled in a far more mature and compelling manner.”
Even now, I still remember how the film made me feel — shortchanged and sad. I was angry at the film and its portrayal of fickle female friendships, even without actually caring about the characters or the story. That doesn’t happen too often, and those takeaways aren’t the kind that rub off after months of contemplation. Worse still? The film wasted the talents of both Fanning and Olsen, who are both capable of much more than they’re given in Foner’s film.
Maybe they edited it. Maybe I’m growing soft.
Very Good Girls will hit iTunes on June 24th, with a limited theatrical rollout following on July 25th. [iTunes]