Reviews & Previews - The Girl

Posted on Monday, April 01, 2013 at 06:00 PM

The Girl

Starring:  Abbie Cornish, Will Patton, Maritza Santiago Hernandez

Director: David Riker

Running time: 95 minutes

Rated: PG13


Cautious Tale

Not a cautionary tale mind you, but a cautious one. In this movie, which was also written by David Riker it seems the director wanted to take us somewhere scarier, more meaningful but stopped just short of where he wanted to go. The movie sets up an intriguing scenario but ultimately we never get very far from where we started.


Ashley (Cornish) is our protagonist. A young, poor mother who has lost custody of her son. Ashley firmly believes her problems are only a result of her financial situation. She has trouble accepting any responsibility in her life and sees it as a constant struggle against people who are set out to do her wrong.


Her somewhat absentee father (Patton) is a model of such behaviour and we quickly see where she got her attitude from. The dynamic between the two isn’t explored much in the film, but what little we get reveals enough because the movie is about Ashley and her search for...well we’re never really sure what she is searching for.


The movie really begins when Ashley determines that there is an easier way to make some money and embarks on an illegal enterprise. Through a series of events she finds herself suddenly burdened with Rosa (Hernandez), the girl in the film’s title. Rosa has lost her mother due to Ashley’s ill thought out get rich plan and the rest of the film is spent watching Ashley try and determine what to do with Rosa.


The dilemma is interesting but a couple things prevent the narrative from being as compelling as it might have been. One is the fact that there doesn’t seem to be any kind of urgency to propel the action forward. Later in the movie there is a bit about Ashley missing a custody hearing but for the most part she seems to meander throughout Mexico at a leisurely pace, going from place to place and staring at the scenery with no real agenda. We feel like she wasn’t in any kind of hurry to resolve the situation so it was hard to be invested.


The second issue was that certain plot elements seemed to be ignored for the sake of continuing the story. At one point it seemed like Ashley was presented with a fairly simple and straightforward way to solve her problem but instead of taking it she hangs around the Mexican town for a few more days.


While we get the fact that she is struggling with her situation without something more that struggle isn’t enough. What could have been a powerful examination of responsibility and guilt instead gets a watered down “movie of the week” treatment. Even a scene in a dangerous bar sputters to a weak conclusion. There was also a chance to give us more around the whole issue of immigration but instead it just serves as a backdrop to Ashley’s moral dilemma.


Cornish does a credible job in the movie and gets special props for speaking Spanish in much of the film. Hernandez is also good in the title role playing the innocent with a good dash of street smarts. The two have good chemistry on screen and I found myself wanting more of that interaction.


It’s not a bad film by any means, but without something compelling to motivate the main characters, I’m not sure there’s anything that would make you want to check it out in the theatres. The Girl opens to limited release soon.




3 out of 5 stars.


S. Tran also writes at, and








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