• 24 Apr - 30 Apr, 2021
  • Mag The Weekly
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Girl starring Bella Thorne and Mickey Rourke it's a slickly made, effectively atmospheric B-movie suspenser that marks a promising feature debut for its writer/director, who also plays a featured role.

Thorne, quickly establishing herself as the busiest actress around, plays the unnamed title character who returns to her small rural hometown to confront the abusive father who abandoned her and her mother (Elizabeth Saunders) years earlier. Upon arriving, she discovers that the barely populated town appears to be in its death throes both economically and spiritually. When the local sheriff (Rourke) offers her a ride, it sounds more like a barely veiled threat.

While the film leaves it vague as to whether or not Girl has come to kill her father, it turns out she's too late in any case. Using a phone book to locate his house, she discovers that someone has beaten her to the punch. In her search for answers, she comes across a variety of distinctive characters, including a bartender (Glen Gould) who tries to warn her to stay out of trouble, a friendly local (Lanette Ware), and the disingenuously labelled Charmer (Faust), who strikes up a flirtation in a laundromat that eventually turns into a knock-down, drag-out brawl. But not before Girl demonstrates her dexterous facility with an ax.

It turns out that the sheriff and Charmer are in cahoots, searching for a large stash of money supposedly hidden away by Girl's father and which they now believe is in Girl's possession. It's but one of many twisty revelations in the film – perhaps too many.

The film is less compelling in its dialogue-heavy drama than when it simply concentrates on providing low-rent thrills. Besides the visceral laundromat fight, which is extremely well staged and filmed, there's a terrific final encounter between Girl and the sheriff that demonstrates that a gun isn't always deadlier than an ax.

There are pacing issues, to be sure, and the rudimentary storyline doesn't live up to its pretensions. But the film proves strongly effective nonetheless, thanks to the filmmaker's grasp of genre mechanics and the excellent performances. Thorne delivers a gritty, forceful turn that perfectly suits her emotionally wounded character. Rourke is even better; his canny underplaying and quietly subdued line readings makes the sheriff all the more chilling, if not exactly easy to understand.