Actors: Dakota Fanning, Elizabeth Olsen, Demi Moore, Peter Sarsgaard
Director: Naomi Foner
Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, Widescreen
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Number of discs: 1
Studio: Well Go USA
Release Date: September 23, 2014
Run Time: 93 minutes
It would be easy to blame Very Good Girls on the restricting roles offered to female leads in Hollywood, with a cliché love triangle and forced moments of sexual awakening amongst teen girls being the only subjects of interest in the film. However true this may be in most cases, Very Good Girls is the directorial debut of female screenwriter Naomi Foner, proving that predictable female coming-of-age fodder can feel false regardless of who makes it. Although there is plenty of forced melodrama in the derivative love triangle at the center of the story, what is most surprising is how much the male gaze remains alive at the hands of a female filmmaker.
The two leads are played by Dakota Fanning and Elizabeth Olsen, who both play teenage girls despite a five-year age difference. While twenty-year-old Fanning carries much more of the narrative believably, it is much more of a stretch imaging twenty-five-year-old Olsen to be seventeen and a virgin. The narrative begins rather predictably, with both Lilly (Fanning) and Olsen (Gerri) making a pact to lose their virginity before leaving for college. They seem to be having their sexual awakening specifically for the sake of the narrative, the film opening with a random streaking sequence on a crowded summer beach. Soon after that, these two girls meet a moody street artist named David (Boyd Holbrook), and there is no need in the narrative to develop their characters beyond their sexual curiosities and petty jealousies.
Each of the two girls have families, which we get brief glimpse of amidst the clutter of the film. Lilly catches her father (Clark Gregg) having an affair, sending her mother (Ellen Barkin) spiraling. This is a sub-plot barely addressed, the film favoring awkwardly shot scenes of fondling and caressing instead. Olsen’s family is boisterous and irregular, but far from unhappy. Her father (Richard Dreyfuss) is obtrusive in his honest banter, and it seems to have rubbed off on his children, witnessed and endured by the family matriarch. Despite having Demi Moore in this role, there is nothing altogether memorable about Olsen’s mother. If anything, having two stars in the roles of the mother only further highlights their absence from their daughter’s lives.
The Blu-ray special features include interviews and a trailer. The film itself, while fairly cinematic in some respects, doesn’t lend itself to high definition. Nobody needs a clearer picture of Fanning’s white ass. Nobody needed that sequence, for that matter. I could go further, but I will practice what Foner could not execute; restraint.
Entertainment Value: 4/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 4/10
Historical Significance: 2/10