Some Girl(s) (2013)
Some Girl(s) (2013) – To cinema-goers the legacy of Neil LaBute may be secured as the writer and director of 2003’s remake of The Wicker Man. I still have yet to gaze upon its awfulness but it replaces the slow-burn (pun sort of intended) of the original with Nicolas Cage in a bear suit punching women in the face before having bees let loose on his face. I may not have the proper context but “over-the-top” is the impression I get. I need to see it someday because it looks like possibly the best bad movie this side of The Room. So people who know LaBute only in this context might be surprised to know that he is a highly celebrated playwright. (Theatre folks, on the other hand, might be surprised to learn he did The Wicker Man.) With plays like The Mercy Seat, Fat Pig, and reasons to be pretty, LaBute goes after the dark side of relationships with an eloquent viciousness. Before getting sidetracked with horror remakes, pointless comedy remakes (Death at a Funeral), and badly-received race-baiting thrillers (Lakeview Terrace), LaBute adapted several of his own plays (In the Company of Men, The Shape of Things) to film with some acclaim. Some Girl(s) is the first time I have seen one of his plays brought to screen by a director other than LaBute himself. Does Daisy von Scherler Mayer do justice to the play?
Adam Brody plays a guy (never named) who is on a bit of a mission. Recently engaged, the successful writer is on a bit of a cross-country road trip to revisit some of his exes to find out just what went wrong. The first is Sam (Jennifer Morrison), now married with kids. She seems the most shaken up by the guys sudden reappearance in her life. Tyler (Mia Maestro) seems to not take his little quest very seriously and is more interested in rekindling their physical relationship on a “no strings attached” level. The older Lindsay (Emily Watson) had her life left in shambles by the guy earlier (she cheated on her husband with him) and is interested in redressing those wrongs. Reggie (Zoe Kazan, as a character added for the film) is much younger than the guy and had a crush on him when she was younger. She is more interested in clearing the air about something that happened between them. Finally, Bobbi (Kristen Bell) is interested in moving forward and isn’t really taken in by the guy’s bullshit. All of these scenes take place in hotel rooms and the guy has a bit of an ulterior motive he hasn’t shared with any of the women.
I really enjoyed this movie. I need to get that out up front because it may not sound like it over the next couple sentences. It came off very much like a play, but without the vitality that live performance provides. I found myself a bit distant for a lot of it thinking about which of my local theatre friends I’d cast in which roles. I have read but never seen the play before so I was coming at it from the point of view of a theatre geek. I imagine most people watching the movie won’t have that distancing effect. I think all the performances were really on-point. Interestingly enough the original Off-Broadway cast was Eric McCormack, Brooke Smith, Judy Reyes, Fran Drescher, and Maura Tierney, which means that the movie is a bit closer to the ages of the characters as written. Brody does very well in the lead role, in a way that I would not have necessarily pegged him as being right for going into it. The guy is a shit (like many LaBute protagonists). It’s not immediately apparent but is revealed over the course of the movie. The original scene (with Kazan) worked really well in itself, but I feel like it might have tipped the film’s hand a bit early. All the women do very well in their parts, feeling like fully-realized characters from one scene each. I find a lot of plays feel “stagey” (in a bad way) when translated to film if they aren’t altered for the medium, but despite being five scenes of mostly just dialogue in interchangeably similar locations the film never gets that feel. This movie is worth checking out… and it made me really want to direct the play…