"We got to get over this hump."
Very Good Girls was on my radar ever since I heard it was debuting in last year's Sundance Film Festival. The reason I was attracted towards this despite not knowing anything about the plot was the cast. It starred Elizabeth Olsen who I've been a fan of ever since Martha Marcy May Marlene and Dakota Fanning who I think hasn't matched that same potential she had as a child actress. The supporting cast included Demi Moore, Peter Sarsgaard, Clark Gregg, and Richard Dreyfuss so I was really looking forward to what they could do. This was also the feature film debut from director Naomi Foner who had written a couple of screenplays in the past, but is best known for being the mother of the talented actors, Jake and Maggie Gyllenhaal.
You would never guess this screenplay was written by a woman considering these young teenage girls have no personality and their entire lives seem to revolve around this guy they met at a beach. He is the only thing they talk about and both girls end up falling for him, which is pretty much the basic theme of this film as their friendship is tested by their personal feelings towards him. Dakota Fanning and Elizabeth Olsen play these young girls who want to lose their virginity before going to college. The guy they both fall for is played by Boyd Holbrook and I really wasn't a huge fan of his performance. I couldn't see why these girls would fall for him as he lacked personality and wasn't really charming either. Both Fanning and Olsen come from very different families. Olsen's parents are played by Richard Dreyfuss and Demi Moore who are very talkative and liberal, while Fanning's parents are played by Clark Gregg and Ellen Barkin and they are much more reserved. The parents don't get much screen time so they weren't really developed very well and all the information we gather from them is through the conversations the two girls have about how they view them (which is almost entirely negative). So that was a big let down for me because I was interested in what these actors could bring to the drama. There is nothing really that engages the audience since none of the characters have any personality whatsoever and not even the love triangle seems too appealing due to the lack of romantic chemistry. The film is only 90 minutes long but it seemed to drag forever and the score didn't help out either. I was hugely disappointed by Very Good Girls and I understand now why it took so long to reach a wider audience after the Festival.
Unfortunately the talented cast is wasted in this film and not even my appreciation for Elizabeth Olsen engaged me. I didn't even like her character very much here and much less the rest of the cast. Olsen has to find better roles because her latest films haven't exploded her potential very well. I was amazed to see how little Demi Moore and Richard Dreyfuss were used in this film; there could have been a better movie somewhere if they were given more importance. The lack of personality from any character just makes this film even more boring and tedious. There have been so many good coming of age films over the past year that this film simply fails to reach the bar that was set so high by Kings of Summer, The Way Way Back, and The Spectacular Now. This could have been an opportunity for two strong female leads but they simply didn't have much to work with.