A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Girl is a suspenseful action drama starring Bella Thorne as an unnamed young woman who goes back to her hometown to kill the abusive father who abandoned her. Once there, she learns there's much more to her family's story than she'd been told. Thorne's character is roughed up and threatened a lot (she's kidnapped, punched, attacked, and shot at, and under constant threat), but she uses her wiles -- and an axe -- to fight back. Positive messages are hard to identify, and Thorne's character isn't the stuff that role models are made of, but her character is brave and does have enough authenticity to possibly elicit a rallying cry from kids who feel their parents just don't understand. Most of the characters use strong language ("bitch," "f--k," etc.), smoke cigarettes, and drink beer and do shots at the local bar. While she's changing her shirt, the side of Thorne's breast is exposed. Spoiler alert: Absentee dads are made out to be heroes here, which could feed the hopeful fantasies of teens whose parent or caregiver has been out of the picture.
What's the story?
In GIRL, an unnamed young woman (Bella Thorne) travels to her rural hometown to confront her estranged, abusive father, intent on killing him so that her victimized mother can feel safe. But when she arrives, she finds that he's already been murdered. As she sets out to find answers and understand the man who abandoned her, she unravels a menacing family legacy.
Is it any good?
What begins as an action thriller turns into a tense family mystery that will keep you guessing. We all grow up with stories about our ancestors, some of them favorable, some of them not. How do these stories shape us and, especially in small towns, shape the narrative around our own lives? And are these stories to be believed? Writer-director Chad Faust cracks the nut on a matter many people likely don't think too much about. In fact, his main character (whose name is never said) only knows that her father 'kicked her to the curb" at age 6 after a domestic violence altercation that left her mother with a broken back, and she never heard from him again. You know what you know, right?
As the main character spends one day back in her hometown, she learns that her mother's warnings were correct: It is a dangerous place, with dangerous people who don't wish her well. The air feels full of danger from the opening frame. With an ominous score, a flash of a hidden axe, and tons of attitude, the suspense is thick. Each word of dialogue carries meaning, and each moment builds. Thorne is a solid actress, and she and Faust deliver on two elements that play off the title. One: Like many young people in the post-high school stage, this girl thinks she knows everything -- and that she's tough enough to handle the dark, mature situation she's putting herself into. That overconfidence is balanced with a palatable uneasiness whenever she realizes she's in over her head. Two: Without words addressing it, Thorne makes us feel precisely how any young woman feels when traveling to a strange place alone. Weird looks, people standing too close, or being alone in a space with just one other person: There's always the question on her (and our) mind about whether sexual assault is about to follow. Girl's story has a couple of holes, but teens will likely be on board for this story of intrigue, surprise, and complicated family dynamics.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how the main character in Girl compares to female protagonists in young adult books and movies. How does she demonstrate courage, determination, and curiosity? Can she be the "hero" of the movie and not be a role model?
How does your family history/legacy shape your own perception of yourself? Are we beholden to behave like our ancestors?
What is "blood memory"? How is it relevant to groups of people, such as Indigenous or Black Americans, to understand generational trauma?
How are drinking and smoking depicted? Are they glamorized?
Talk about the amount of violence in the movie. Is there a better or different way the girl could have handled conflict?
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