White Girl (Sundance Review)
This first full-length feature from director Elizabeth Wood features an unapologetic portrayal of an anything-goes college girl looking for an escape. It’s not exactly clear what she’s trying to escaping from, perhaps just parental constraints, but the privileged white girl ends up getting an up-close look at the gritty underbelly of the New York City drug scene. Wood shows confidence with the scandalous direction and the pulsating visuals in White Girl (think Spring Breakers meets Heaven Knows What), but the story lacks meaningful depth and the characters are as predictable as they come.
Moments after moving into a new apartment, Leah (Morgan Saylor of Homeland) and her roommate (India Menuez) get dirty looks from guys in the area, though they don’t seem to mind. When their weed supply runs out, Leah befriends a local drug dealer named Blue (Brian ‘Sene’ Marc). They end up spending every moment between hits together, and to be fair, he does seem to genuinely care about her, even recommending that she slows down with her cocaine usage. Of course, it’s only a matter of time before Blue gets busted, and guess who’s there to get tangled up in the mess trying to help?
White Girl doesn’t shy away from showing explicit scenes involving sex and drugs, often both at the same time. By the end, there’s such an overwhelming amount of nonconsensual sex, cocaine snorting, and loud club music that it becomes desensitizing. White Girl definitely earns a certain emotional response, but it doesn’t offer much commentary on racial or gender issues, or on much of anything for that matter. Even though the film plays out in a foreseeable manner, it contains a couple solid performances and some striking visuals.