Over the next few weeks, our man in Melbourne, Sean W. Fallon, will be covering the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) and reviewing some of his favourite movies that he catches there.
Overview: Greta, a shy teenager, is forced to have a massive birthday party and things get weird. Oscilloscope; 2016; Not Rated; 80 minutes.
Love: In order to set the tone let me open with this: I loved Girl Asleep. I loved the bones of it. I loved the music, the actors, the characters, the setting, the dancing, the costumes, the 4:3 ratio photography, the dialogue, the fights, the jokes, the direction, the editing, the titles, the cinema I saw in it, and the train ride home. Halfway through its run time I had the realisation that I was loving it. I had that wonderful feeling during a movie where I thought to myself, if this movie can hold it together it’ll become one of my favourites. And it did.
Story: Greta is starting a new school and has no friends. She is befriended by Elliot (played with unrestrained glee by Harrison Feldman), who likes her, and three mean girl sisters who’s motives are unclear. In order to try and bring her out of her shell her parents decide to throw her a fifteenth birthday party. During the party, after a run-in with the mean girl sisters, Greta falls asleep and finds herself having an adventure out in the woods filled with brightly clothed creatures and people with papier mache heads.
Mix: I loved this movie as much as I did because Screenwriter Matthew Whittet and Director Rosemary Myers have constructed it as an amalgamation of other things I love: The movies of Wes Anderson and Michel Gondry, Where the Wild Things Are, Napoleon Dynamite, the 70’s, Australia, dad jokes, The Mighty Boosh, disco, Bollywood, coming of age stories, doughnuts, and creative title cards.
It also had something that I didn’t realise I was missing from movies. It’s runtime is an hour and twenty minutes. It is brisk and stays fresh throughout. Recently I’ve been watching so many big budget blockbusters that lurch to the three hour mark with only enough story for two at best. I’ve had too many cinema experiences recently that have ended in exhaustion, but with Girl Asleep I was left wanting more not less, a feeling I haven’t had for a while.
The actress playing Greta, Bethany Whitmore, is fantastic and is written as an actual person rather than the usual stereotype of what an adult thinks a teenage girl is. She is scared and confused, but also tough and desperate for the world to just let her relax and have some fun.
Overall: Girl Asleep gets a wide release in September and I urge you, beg you, and beseech you to see it. It is something that, while drenched in influences from elsewhere, is new and exciting. It is fun and deals with emotions in interesting ways. It is lovely. It’s like having a cup of tea with someone you love, telling jokes and listening to music. You’ll watch this movie and afterwards you’ll feel great, and if you don’t then watch it again just to be sure.
Featured Image: Oscilloscope