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Bad Girl
Australia 2016
Directed by Fin Edquist
Running time 87 minutes
Rated MA

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3 stars


Synopsis: Amy (Sara West) is an only child who moves with her adoptive parents to a regional West Australian town. She makes plans with her friends to help her run away but when they don’t come through she gets drunk.and nearly falls from the railing of a bridge.  As it happens,  a young neighbor, Chloe (Samara Weaving), happens to be walking past at that very moment and saves her. And so their friendship begins.

Although in a little clunky in terms of narrative development particularly in its early stages when the relationship between its two central characters is beiing established, writer-director Fin Edquist’s debut feature is an appealingly raw psychological thriller that manages to deliver dramatic substance along with the requisite suspense.

The “bad girl” of the story is Amy, a bolshie teenager who has little but contempt for her adoptive parents (Benjamin Winspear and Felicity Price) who have, as she sees it, dragged her to some god-forsaken backwater to live in a magazine-perfect model home, the showcase for a residential development with which her architect father is involved. Small wonder that she forms an intense relationship with her cool-seeming neighbour. Chloe (Samara Weaving).  Initially Amy thinks that she has found a kindred spirit with whom to kick against the jams but gradually she begins to understand that Chloe is altogether different from how she seems.

Despite the rather too easy way in which Amy and Chloe become “besties” and embark on a search for Amy’s real parents, the strength of Fin Edquist’s screenplay is its credible portrayal of teenage alienation and its consequent appetite for bad behaviour, often as we know, with catastrophic results. It is a hook which solidly binds us to the girls and keeps us invested in their journey.

Sara West is very effective as the petulant daughter and if Samara Weaving is initially a little less convincing in what is admittedly a more demanding role, once her character's true identity begins to emerge and the stakes escalate she is very good. It would have been nice to see her uncle, Hugo Weaving, in the role of the father as he is particularly good at suggesting malevolent ambiguity and that would have brought another layer of tension to proceedings.  Benjamin Winspear plays the role more as a straightforward dick-nob, whilst Felicity Price is your familiar selflessly-loving mother. Both are, however, essentially background figures.

It is the relationship between the girls that is the substance of the film and here, both as a writer and a director Edquist has delivered a  refreshingly novel take on a well-worn genre template, a little rough around the edges at times but ultimately commendable.

 

 

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