Scott Carlin (Pete Davidson) is a twenty-something stoner/slacker who sits around smoking pot every day with his friends, doesn’t work and still lives with his widowed mother, Margie (Marisa Tomei). Scott’s life of complacency is about to change, however, as his mom starts dating divorced fireman Ray (Bill Burr), his caring sister, Claire (Maude Apatow) moves out to attend college and his “girlfriend,” Kelsey (Bel Powley) is putting pressure on him to be an actual boyfriend. Is it time for Scott to get a life, or will he find some way to keep his current lifestyle of smoking weed and giving his friends tattoos of questionable quality?
Film is directed by Judd Apatow from his script co-written with star Pete Davidson and David Sirus. It is supposedly based somewhat on Pete Davidson’s life growing up in Staten Island and loosing his fireman father at a young age. It’s one of Apatow’s better films in some time with a nice, even mix of drama and comedy and a really solid cast. Davidson is charming and funny as the Scott, who’s got a good heart, but zero ambitions, aside from his dream to open a tattoo parlor/restaurant. Still hurting over the on-duty death of his his fireman father, there is reasonable turmoil when his mother starts dating another one. Davidson plays that well, too. Scott has to make some strong decisions when thrown out by his fed-up mother and everyone around him is either moving on with their lives, or getting themselves into trouble. Apatow directs very low-key and uses the Staten Island locations to charming effect and the film is never boring at 136 minutes. The cast are all great, with Tomei giving another culturally flavorful performance and SNL alumni Pete Davidson proving he can carry a film. After a few stumbles, this and Trainwreck prove Apatow’s back to form.
Wildling finds a little girl named Anna (Aviva Winick) being held in a single room by a man she knows only as “Daddy” (Brad Dourif). He cares for her and tells her tales of a creature called a “Wildling” that will come for here if she steps outside. When Anna grows into a young woman (Bel Powley from Diary of a Teenage Girl) the man becomes fearful and his suicide attempt brings the police. Rescued, Anna is put in the custody of Sheriff Ellen Cooper (Liv Tyler) till they can find her real parents. The longer she stays with Ellen and her brother Ray (Collin Kelly-Sordelet), though, the more Anna starts to change. When a young boy’s body is found mutilated in the woods, it starts to appear that Anna is something far more than simply a victim of imprisonment…and there may be far more truth to the fables of The Wildling.
This is certainly not the first time that lycanthropy has been used as a euphemism for a young woman coming of age. It is, however, a far different film than the cult classic Ginger Snaps, as directed by Fritz Böhm from his script with Florian Eder. While Ginger Snaps was more about budding sexuality, here there is a large focus on the fear in men of a woman’s empowerment, as the last act centers on a group of hunters trying to track Anna down and destroy her. We also get some disrespect from some of these men towards Tyler’s female sheriff, as she tries to find Anna and figure things out. Unfortunately, it is also in the last third where the film loses a bit of it’s grip, as Anna becomes more beast-like and it turns into torch light villagers hunting the monster, when the first two thirds were about a girl trying to find her place in the world, while dealing with some kind of metaphorical transformation. That was more emotionally interesting, as we like Anna and sympathize with her trying to fit in after years in a cell. Still Böhm tells his tale in his own style and he accomplishes some atmosphere and does make some really good use of the New York State locations, including some in downtown Piermont, NY, which I personally have frequented often. The film is visually satisfying and there are some gruesome sequences to remind you there is a horror flick under all the thinly veiled metaphors.
The small cast is very good, especially Powley as Anna. She creates a young woman both frightened and fascinated by the new world she is thrust into and then having to deal with a terrifying transformation into something she was taught is very dangerous. Her petite stature and youthful features allow her to successfully portray a woman ten years younger, as she did in the sexually themed Diary of a Teenage Girl. Liv Tyler is solid as the caring Sheriff. She becomes attached to Anna and it becomes hard for her when she starts to believe the girl might be dangerous. Dourif is good, as always, as “Daddy” a man who may have actually been locking the little girl up for her own good. Rounding out is a good performance by Collin Kelly-Sordelet as Ellen’s brother Ray, who also cares for Anna and James LeGros as a hermit who lives in the woods and may know more about Anna than she does herself.
In conclusion this is not an original idea, it could be oversimplified into Room meets Ginger Snaps, but is well done enough to walk to the beat of it’s own drum. Director/co-writer Fritz Böhm creates an atmospheric allegory of a young woman coming of age and thus becoming dangerous to those who fear her empowerment. The first two-thirds are involving and it’s only in the last act, when it becomes more of a monster hunt that it loses it’s grip somewhat, thought it’s point is still made. A good cast, especially our lead, also helps tell the story well. Worth watching, though one might end up wanting to like it a bit more than one actually does. Not bad for a first full length film, Böhm could be someone to keep an eye on.
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Great indie comedy/drama is based on the graphic novel by Phoebe Gloeckner and tells the story of 15-year-old aspiring cartoonist Minnie Goetz (Bel Powley). Self-conscious Minnie lives in 1976 San Francisco and has a sexual awaking when she starts to have an affair with the handsome 35-year-old boyfriend (Alexander Skarsgård) of her free-spirited mother (Kristen Wiig). The experience opens her up to exploring her newfound confidence and sexuality…and all the emotional turmoil that comes with it.
Written and directed by Marielle Heller, this is a provocative and daring movie about a young woman’s coming of age that is also touching, brazenly sexual and sometimes very funny. The film boldly breaks the double standard by unapologetically portraying a young woman sowing her newfound sexual oats and thus dealing with all the conflicting emotions that it brings. It also bravely portrays a very taboo relationship between Minnie and the much older Monroe, who is basically taking advantage of a young woman’s budding sexual appetites due to his own emotional insecurities. It’s done with intelligence, class, style and a touch of whimsy as Minnie’s cartoons often come to life to accent the situation or further explore what’s on her mind. This is a refreshingly honest film, made by Heller from her clever and very smart script that presents it’s story without judging the characters inhabiting it, or their behavior. The film is never smug or pretentious, either, nor is it ever exploitive or insensitive, despite the plentiful sexual situations involving a character that is supposed to be 15-years-old. This is an energetic and emotional film that has it’s heartbreaks, but also presents Minnie’s experiences as a natural progression out of childhood and a stage of self-discovery and maturing that some of the “adults” around her have yet to do. Watching Minnie coming to terms with not only all the new emotions and blossoming confidence, but the power and control her sexuality can sometimes afford her, is portrayed with the honesty and respect it deserves and there is an energy to Minnie’s awakening that resonates thanks to a firecracker of a leading lady.
While on the subject of cast, Heller achieves much of this, not only from her heartfelt script, that never trivializes the subject matter, but from great performances from her core actors. British actress Bel Powley is simply amazing as Minnie. She gives a brave and complex performance portraying all the emotions that a young girl, who is discovering her sexuality, would have. From the excitement, to dealing with the unexpected attachments, to the disappointment and heartbreaks, Bel is simply a powerhouse as a very real teenage girl becoming a young woman, who has urges and desires and learns to take control of them, all the while finding out who she is and who she wants to be. A young woman not afraid to use her newfound sexuality to get what, or who she wants either. Alexander Skarsgård does a really good job at the difficult task of making Monroe a person we don’t jump to conclusions about. A man with his own flaws and insecurities that lead him to have a very inappropriate relationship with his girlfriend’s young daughter. He keeps him from being just a one dimensional stereotypical creep, by giving us someone with his own emotional issues that lead him to irresponsibly respond to Minnie’s advances. Kristen Wiig is fantastic as Minnie’s mother Charlotte who has been married and now has adopted a more Bohemian lifestyle of drugs and sex to sate the emotional emptiness in her life. A woman sadly too involved in her own life to really see what is going on, practically in front of her. A great cast to portray well written characters.
Really loved this movie. It’s boldly sexual by presenting it’s subject of a young woman’s coming of age in a frank and unapologetic manner and at a time without the fear of AIDS and STDs. We get a dazzling performance by Bel Powley as Minnie and Marielle Heller takes us on her emotionally turbulent sexual awaking skillfully and with a lot of heart. There are some clever artistic touches too from the writer/director, as well as, an intelligent script with multidimensional characters that treats it’s subject with honesty and respect. A great little indie movie. Also stars Christopher Meloni as Charlotte’s ex, Pascal and Abigail Wait as Minnie’s little sister, Gretel.