While she's struggling with her lines in some scenes, Stewart pulls it off and is certainly expertly cast. I can't imagine what 18-year-old would've been a better candidate for the role of runaway stripper Mallory. Something about that gritty face, that strikingly unglamorous attitude, that hint of tomboyism in her looks, voice, and mannerisms, that works like magic.
She drapes her character with subtle neurotic tendencies and seemingly improvised facial expressions, and when she lets loose, there's no stopping her. The amount of profanity borders on being intolerable, but is brought with such convincing teenage angst that it avoids turning cheap.
The pace of the film is relaxed without getting tardy, although I did get the impression you only get to really know the characters when the story draws to a close, as if you're watching a pilot episode.
The epilogue disappoints doubly as it presents a somewhat forced positive outlook, something the film is in no need of. While it is clear how plot events might have served as a catalyst for improvement in the lives of troubled married couple Gandolfini and Leo, Stewart changes from self-destructive hooker to neat schoolgirl, from one scene to the next, and nothing lingers to explain any bit of that transformation.
I read that director Jake Scott didn't inherit every one of his father's movie genes, but there are similarities that shouldn't go unnoticed: here we have a plot that falls short when evaluated critically, especially in terms of credibility and logical sense, yet I found its aesthetic presentation, acting performances, and profuse melancholy too addictive to even want to think about the story anymore... a liberating experience I've come to love about most of Ridley's movies, anyway.
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