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Some Girl(s)

2013 | 90 min | R | 1.85:1

Some Girl(s)


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Theatrical release date

 28 June, 2013

Country of origin

 United States



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Some Girl(s) Preview  

 / 10
Preview by Brian Orndorf, June 27, 2013

We know Neil LaBute as a playwright and filmmaker who has a particular interest in the erosion of the human soul. He’s a man fascinated with emotional violence exchanged between the sexes, mining this concentration in work such as “The Shape of Things,” “In the Company of Men,” and “Your Friends & Neighbors.” In recent years, he’s experimented with genre entertainment to build a Hollywood career (including “Lakeview Terrace” and the misbegotten “Wicker Man” remake), but his heart remains with the pleasures of extreme discomfort. “Some Girl(s)” is an adaptation of LaBute’s 2005 play and is loaded with dark thoughts and agitation, making an excellent transition to the big screen courtesy of director Daisy von Scherler Mayer, who confidently retains LaBute’s acid splash.

Man (Adam Brody) is a writer currently engaged to his girlfriend, trying to wrap his mind around the nature of this commitment. To clear a path to his happiness, Man travels around America reconnecting with old girlfriends and fascinations, trusting some face-to-face time might heal old wounds. In Seattle, there’s Sam (Jennifer Morrison), Man’s high school girlfriend who was unceremoniously dumped before prom -- an act of teenage savagery she’s never understood. In Chicago, Tyler (Mia Maestro) is a seductress who welcomes Man’s invitation to meet, using her charms to test her ex’s fidelity while questioning the authenticity of his future plans. In Boston, Lindsay (Emily Watson) was once Man’s older co-worker before a torrid affair ravaged her insecurities, threatening to destroy her marriage. Now back in Man’s company, Lindsay demands a sexual act to restore equilibrium to her frazzled life. Back in Seattle, Reggie (Zoe Kazan) is the kid sister of Man’s best friend, reminding the visitor of an unforgivable act that occurred between them when she was only 11 years old. And in Los Angeles, Bobbi (Kristen Bell) is the one that got away, with Man finally coming to the realization that his destructive behavior might’ve cost him the woman he desired the most.

Unfinished business is the theme of “Some Girl(s),” a powerful tractor beam of curiosity that takes Man on a tour of his mistakes, with the ultimate summation of his actions the question that drives the drama. It’s a stagey picture, regulated to Man’s hotel rooms, where he habitually samples mini-bar offerings while verbally jousting with former flames, each emerging out of the fog with their own questions of endgame purposes that the main character can’t always answer satisfactorily. It’s a claustrophobic movie, but interestingly so, held together by the director’s quest to explore human behavior, slightly softening LaBute’s sting to generate a sense of compassion for the women as they return to an anxious headspace, forced to recall their disposable nature. Even Man’s mission is treated with some degree of understanding, isolating a disagreeable yet universal need to revisit dormant desires and forgotten attraction.

Man is a cad, without a doubt, and his inability to accept responsibility is a cancer that spreads throughout LaBute’s work. He’s always quick to share blame for his misdeeds, finding Reggie the most charged of the visitations, observing the woman recoil in disgust as Man refuses to acknowledge the full burden of misconduct and its impact on a little girl with an innocent crush. The rest of the encounters drill into a fascinating sense of disbelief, as old business returns to view, once again leading to acts of stunted communication as the exes try to summon the courage to express themselves in this rare opportunity to return fire. In the Lindsay segment, ante is upped through a demand for revenge sex, watching the insecure character make a case for a quickie as a form of marital therapy. Man, ever the lustful manipulator, doesn’t exactly show disinterest in Lindsay’s plan. LaBute’s aces with these toxic encounters, though the venom in “Some Girl(s)” is smartly portioned, never snowballing into hysterics.

Performances are uniformly terrific, with Brody finally showing signs of adulthood in his acting. His boyish features creasing and hardening, the actor is easy to believe in the difficult role, wisely downplaying Man’s reptilian ways to shape a character more pathological, perhaps genuinely interested in the misery of others. The supporting cast also hits wonderful notes of internalized outrage, while Kazan’s turn as the flattened young woman is showy, but convincingly so, getting the film to the peak of disgust it needs.

As with anything LaBute does, this is not an easy sit. “Some Girl(s)” is raw work, exposing psychological damage that makes for great theater and, to some surprise, excellent cinema.

Starring: Adam Brody, Zoe Kazan, Jennifer Morrison, Kristen Bell, Mía Maestro, Emily Watson
Director: Daisy von Scherler Mayer

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