"Some Girls" Will Stick in Your Mind for Days Review

Adam Brody plays the unnamed protagonist in the latest filmic adaptation of a Neil LaBute play. He is a somewhat notorious writer about to get married who is embarking on a masochistic (and even sadistic) quest to revisit all of his past girlfriends and check in with them. He claims to be searching for closure, but it seems like he is really just more intent on ruffling these girls’ feathers, reawakening dormant feelings.

His first stop (in Seattle) is a tame one, as he seeks closure from high school sweetheart Sam (auburn-haired Jennifer Morrison). He ditched her senior year citing a terrible vision of a dead-end life with her. Now married with children, Sam finds the reunion befuddling; but that doesn’t stop her from trying to squeeze some answers out of him.

He then treks to Chicago where sultry Tyler (Mia Maestro) tries to seduce him. In Boston, older Lindsay (Emily Watson) seeks some revenge for the affair they had. Back in Seattle, he must face some hard truths when young Reggie (Zoe Kazan) delivers a shocking confession. But hardest reunion of all is with Bobbi (Kristen Bell), the only girl he came closest to truly loving.

Prolific screenwriter, director, and playwright Neil LaBute penned the script for this adaptation by TV director Daisy von Scherler Mayer. His stylized colloquial dialogue (in similar vein to David Mamet) which works very well on stage does not always translate well onto screen. And even in the hands of a capable actor, some of the lines feels off. Fortunately most of the cast is up to the challenge of speaking his language.

The brunt of the dialogue naturally falls to Brody. He does a surprisingly great job of balancing the smarmy, aloof, and charming qualities of the character, making your opinion of him change depending on which woman he is with. Maestro and Watson hold their own with the dialogue while also playing up their sexuality for the scenes. Morrison, unsurprisingly, is stiff and awkward with LaBute’s dialogue (fortunately, her scene is the first and is over quickly). Kazan feels the most natural with the dialogue, making Brody’s delivery feel awkard in the scene, which is interesting to note since her role was added to the film. Yet it is the final scene between Brody and Bell that is most enjoyable. It’s refreshing to see Bell doing drama again. And they have a great chemistry and their scene is brimming with tension and revelations.

Despite the “why would he ever want to do this to himself?” aspect of the premise, Some Girl(s) provides intriguing situations that will keep you guessing the characters’ motivations. The protagonist’s need to revisit these past relationships appears to be self-indulgent, but as each scene reveals more about him you begin to see how wrong (yet right) that assumption is. And the inevitable, LaBute-style reveals in the climax will provide plenty of fodder for a rewatch of the film, having altered your expectations for this character.

It’s also interesting to note how von Scherler Mayer keeps the “tradition” (whether intentional or not) of casting actors who are known for their television work. In the original Off-Broadway production featured actors Eric McCormack, Fran Drescher, Maura Tierney, and Judy Reyes who were all known for their work on TV. In this adaptation a similar trend emerges through the casting of Adam Brody (The O.C.), Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars), Zoe Kazan (Bored to Death), and Mia Maestro (Alias). There are interesting preconceived notions about such actors who are closely related to a series, and it’s always fascinating to see them subvert those notions by playing (mostly) different characters. It’s also great to see this younger generation of actors (Brody, Bell, and Kazan) tackling LaBute while he simultaneously updates some of the dialogue to match the ever changing vernacular (there is a quip about Tweeting that most definitely was not in the original play).

Neil LaBute’s films are not always the best, sometimes his shocking twists seem too forced. But Some Girl(s) is a more natural, believable example of his storytelling that leaves you wanting more (sadly, and unsurprisingly, we never meet his supposed fiancée). But the best thing about this film (and LaBute’s work in general) is how the revelations keep you reexamining moments in the film for hours after you’ve watched it.

"Some Girl(s)" opens June 28, 2013 and is not rated. Drama. Directed by Daisy Von Scherler Mayer. Written by Neil LaBute. Starring Zoe Kazan.

Jun
28
2013
John Keith • Staff Writer

Writer. TV Addict. Bibliophile. Reviewer. Pop Culture Consumer. Vampire Enthusiast. LOST fanatic.

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