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Friday, March 22, 2013

Molly’s Girl DVD Review

Molly’s Girl is an excellent film about a socially awkward woman named Molly who has her first gay experience with an activist named Mercedes. But this is anything but a typical coming-out story. In fact, it’s not a coming-out story at all. The film’s scenario is different from that of other films I’ve seen, and the relationships are interesting, complex and original. The film boasts really good performances, particularly by the two leads, but also by some of the supporting cast. And though when watching the film I found myself laughing out loud quite often, this is actually a pretty serious film. There is a lot going on here.

Molly’s Girl begins with Molly (Kristina Valada-Viars) speaking directly to the camera, awkwardly playing with her hair, trying to convince us to like her. And then we see that she’s speaking to a man opposite her. He doesn’t respond, so she continues awkwardly, “I think if Jesus had had more time on Earth, he would have gotten a pet, like a dog or a mule or something. I think it would have helped him with those people who killed him because they would have seen how he was with his dog and they would have known that he was a naturally good person because he had a dog who loved him.” The man gets up without saying a word. It’s a speed-dating scenario.

A little later, Mercedes (Emily Schweitz) is at a bar with her girlfriend Gina (Stephanie Brown). Molly enters the bar, and is upset that the bartender can’t remember what she ordered last night. She is clearly a bit demented and tries hitting on the guy next to her, who is astonished and annoyed.

Mercedes is a gay rights activist, but her girlfriend just wants to live her life. Gina suddenly breaks up with Mercedes, and Molly overhears this. Molly has scared away the guy next to her, and later in the night Mercedes takes the seat he has left vacant. Interestingly, Molly tries to sell herself to Mercedes the same way she tries to sell herself to men. And it’s not that Molly is trying to pick her up; it’s just that that’s how nervous and socially awkward she is. However, Mercedes is drunk, and asks Molly for a ride home.

At Mercedes’ home, Molly suddenly kisses Mercedes, then backs away, as if completely unsure if that were okay. Mercedes says “Oh, what the hell,” and returns her kiss.  The next morning Molly is still her talkative, awkward, overbearing self, which is great. It’s not that her first gay experience has suddenly changed her. Molly simply attaches herself to Mercedes the way she would with anyone else, showing up at her place of work, and then at her home, just walking in with a packed overnight bag.

Mercedes, wisely, gets a restraining order against Molly. But that doesn’t stop her; Molly shows up at work, tells Mercedes she loves her. Molly is constantly lying, so that when she says she’s the senator’s daughter, Mercedes of course doesn’t believe her. But this bit actually happens to be true. She’s the daughter of a senator Mercedes has been trying to persuade to not vote against gay marriage.

So Mercedes rushes out to catch up with her, but in order to confront her, thinking Molly is actually part of her father’s twisted strategy, not to suddenly make up with her (which a lesser movie would have her do). But Molly breaks down, and Mercedes opens a bit to her, then strikes a deal with her in which Molly will take her to her father’s birthday party and introduce her as her fiancée.

Molly has a couple of props that are put to good use in establishing and showing her character. The first is a hand mirror with her name on it. Molly often consults this mirror when stressed out or in doubt, looking into the mirror as if checking up on herself, trying to see how she is perceived. The other is a white fur scarf that she plays with, almost like a child playing dress-up. These work well to show both her trouble facing reality, and her somewhat stunted growth into adulthood.

There are, however, just a couple of unbelievable – or at least questionable -  elements in the film (though they’re minor). For example, at the senator’s house, which is quite big, Molly and Mercedes have to sleep on the floor of Molly’s sister’s room because there is no other place for them. But clearly a house this large would have guest rooms. It would be a simple thing to address – just have Mercedes say something like, “Really, no guest room?” And show by the parents’ reactions that they’re just being cold, that they’re not going to make things easy for Molly.

Also, Darren (Andre Davis), a man who works for Mercedes, drives Mercedes and Molly to Molly’s parents’ house. Why?  And where does Darren sleep? We don’t know, except that it’s somewhere in the house. With the senator’s assistant perhaps? It’s not clear why Darren is there at all. However, I’m glad he’s there, because I like that character, and there are some wonderful moments with him at the house. For example, I absolutely love it when Darren says how he hates New York. “I just hate it. Honest-to-God hate it.”

As I mentioned, this film has a fairly strong supporting cast. In addition to some great work by Andre Davis, this film has some excellent work by Ellen Dolan as Molly’s mother. One of my favorite moments with her is when she speaks with Mercedes about homosexuality while setting the table for dinner. (Emily Schweitz is also excellent in that scene.)

And, amazingly, you really do come to feel sympathy for Molly, just as Mercedes does. You understand at least a bit about why she is the way she is, why she is constantly creating a fake life for herself. And Molly, without any anger, calls Mercedes out on her own bullshit in another of the film’s many excellent moments. These are well-rounded, fully developed characters, and you end up caring for all of them.

Special Features

This DVD includes two deleted scenes. In the first one, Molly is clearly looking at her younger sister in the mirror, not herself, which is interesting, as it shows she’s not able to look at things directly. (It can be cut, because we see her do that in other scenes.)  The second one is actually an extended scene, and I think cutting this portion was the right move, for it doesn’t fit at all. It shows a sleazy sort of guy hitting on Molly.

The DVD also includes the film’s trailer.

Molly’s Girl was written and directed by Scott Thompson. Molly’s Girl was released on March 19, 2013 through TLA Releasing.

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