26 January 2012 | StevePulaski
The dirty, pretty things films give us
"Nobody likes a dirty girl," Principal Mulray (Grubbs) tells Danielle (Temple) early on. She is a promiscuous adolescent, full of life, spunk, attitude, and guts. But she comes from a background that isn't so full of life and gutsy. Her mother (Jovovich) was a tramp in high school and because of that Danielle has never heard of or met her real father. After discovering her father's real identity, she packs up and hits the road going across Oklahoma to find him. She also does it to avoid her mother's new Mormon fiancée (Macy) and his outlandish punishment of virtually abandoning one of their own to show how important family is. My guess anyone would abandon him at first chance.
Danielle takes the car of her chubby, homosexual friend from Sex Ed. class Clarke (played fantastically by Jeremy Dozier). Clarke's father (Yoakam) has been verbally and physically abusive to his son for many years and is only further outraged to find out of his sexual orientation. Thankfully, the film, mostly, doesn't play Clarke's sexuality for laughs. We have a strong sense that he can't help his feelings, and is dealing with them in the only way he knows how to. Guys and girls alike proclaim their love for the opposite sex, why can't Clarke? Danielle and Clarke also take a sack of flour (their "baby" from Sex Ed. class) along on the ride and boy does the kid get the journey of her life.
Dirty Girl is an exciting, sort of refreshing gem that mimics not only the eighties style of rebellion, but bathes in a surprisingly dramatic bath of coming of age storytelling. Going into this expecting a solid comedy with laughs and humor galore, I was stunned to see how heavy the dramatic elements are. In many ways, this is a very sad view on one's adolescence and sometimes the laughs we get are because of insecurity and stem from the fact that their true feelings are hidden.
There's also a nice blend of wit and soul in the writing. In some ways this could be an account of writer/director Abe Sylvia's life. He grew up homosexual in Oklahoma and had been working on this story since around 2004. The film's bawdy nature is fast paced and entertaining, but Dirty Girl seems to stem from a world a lot more sentimental in emotions than we could've thought.
For an independent film, it certainly packs in some credible names. Milla Jovovich is a nice addition to the cast, Temple is very convincing, Dozier is the star of the entire film, Macy is about ten miles away from his character of Frank Gallagher in Shameless, and Tim McGraw and Dwight Yoakam are delightfully unexpected.
In many ways Dirty Girl is funny, charming, delightful, and satisfying. In many ways it's dark, sad, depressing, and begging to be loved. We have two insecure characters that go about their insecurity in totally different ways. One, giving herself up to anyone and everyone, and the other just sitting by idly in high school taking the hatred from his peers and probably his classmates. It's a sad world after all.
Starring: Juno Temple, Jeremy Dozier, Milla Jovovich, William H. Macy, and Dwight Yoakam. Directed by: Abe Sylvia.