Being a total sucker for character study, I love stories that take two or more disagreeable people and sticks them together in a room with seemingly no escape. Subtracting set pieces, elaborate locations, and complicated plots, all that’s left is pure conflict and dialogue that slowly reveals characters’ true natures. Great examples include 12 Angry Men, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolfe, Jean Paul Sartre’s “No Exit,” and, very recently, Savages, but now director Daisy von Sherler Mayer has introduced a new title to that esteemed list: Some Girl(s).
Based on the play by Neil LaBute and told through five distinctly separate-yet-connected segments, the story follows an unnamed writer (Adam Brody) as he travels around the country to visit women with whom he’s had a romantic past (Jennifer Morrison, Mia Maestro, Emily Watson, Zoe Kazan, Kristen Bell) just as he’s about to get married. Through each segment Through each conversation he hopes to make peace and understand where each of the relationship’s went long, all the while exposing his own deep personal flaws and issues.
As the only actor in the film to be featured in every scene, Brody carries the entire film on his shoulders, but does so with great aptitude. As the story progresses and we learn more about his unnamed character – most notably his propensity for bolting whenever things get remotely complicated or difficult – he gets less and less sympathetic, but the star’s charm and likability excellently balances it, and the audience can understand how he managed to attract the five women in the first place. What’s more, because each relationship is so different from the last, each segment requires a different part of the protagonist’s personality to come out, but Brody finds chemistry with all of his co-stars, both comically and dramatically.
It’s that same blend of tones that lends Some Girl(s) an important authenticity. Because the storytelling style depends so greatly on the characters and the realness of the conversation, any divergence could have thrown the film off kilter, but that never happens. The exposition is masked beautifully, and thanks to the strong writing and great performances the conversations never feel scripted. And while some of the segments are lighter or darker than the others, the movie never plays in black or white, the script allowing both quips to break tension, and dark turns to break up banter.
The ending of the film is somewhat deflated by a “big reveal” that should be anticipated by just about everyone in the audience actually paying attention, but fortunately it fails to derail the story because it’s predictability stems from how well the main character is illustrated. On an individual scale, as to be expected, some segments are stronger than others – my favorites being Kazan’s and Watson’s, the weakest I found to be Maestro’s – but overall Some Girl(s) is an impressive piece of work with a great premise, well-crafted characters, and more than a few excellent performances.
For more of our SXSW 2013 coverage, click HERE.