Girl Asleep (2015)

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GIRL-ASLEEP-2I wanted to really like this movie. It’s Australian, it has a young cast, it’s quirky and has a great sense of style. It’s set beautifully in the 70s; the fashions and decor making me want to go out there and redecorate. It starts off with an oddball lightness and a great sense of colour and framing but then veers into darker territory and seems to lose its way. I was left unsure as to which demographic the film is aimed at and how authentically it explores the anxieties of contemporary teens.

Greta has started a new school and is befriended by nerdy Elliott. She is then approached by three ultra-cool and bitchy sisters who we know are bad news and she must navigate their bullying and the loving but misguided attempts of her parents to help her make friends. Nearly all of the characters are caricatures – the bullies who have no humanity, Elliott who is harmless and gauche, Greta’s cold-hearted mother, corny father and apathetic sister – and so we can see the obvious part they have to play in helping Greta work out how to exist in the world.

About halfway through the story enters a more magical theme that, I think, shows Greta’s fears and need to leave childhood behind. Initially visually striking with a dark forest and great fantastical characters, this soon becomes a muddle of chasing and notes and characters too obviously representing aspects of herself and her family, the metaphor clumsy and much too literal for me.

Although Greta is 14, I feel perhaps this is aimed at younger children who may better accommodate the two-dimensional characters and obvious lessons learned.

Bechdel test – pass
3 stars

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