Girl

Dominique Swain made a fierce, bravely unselfconscious debut in Adrian Lyne's otherwise limp Lolita, playing Nabokov's famous temptress as a headstrong, defiant, undeniably adolescent force of nature. Girl finds Swain once again playing a fetching nymphet involved with an artistically inclined older man, this time in a tired coming-of-age story as fuzzy and misguided as its naive-beyond-her-years protagonist. Swain stars as a brainy but clueless high-school senior who becomes obsessed with dreamy Sean Patrick Flanery, a singer whose street-urchin wardrobe and uncanny resemblance to a young David Cassidy she finds strangely irresistible. A sheltered virgin headed to Brown after graduation, Swain soon becomes immersed in a strange and frightening rock world filled with reckless mosh-pit dancing, people with hair dyed unnatural colors, girls who prefer girls, and boys who prefer boys. Along the way, Swain does a bit of living, a bit of loving, and a whole lot of learning as she comes to realize what's truly important, information conveyed via intrusive and nearly constant running narration. Equally unsuccessful as a comedy, drama, and coming-of-age story, Girl's fatal flaw is that it never gets a handle on Swain's plucky but passive protagonist, an aimless, ill-defined blank defined almost entirely through her one-sided relationship with Flanery. Girl grows increasingly desperate as it goes along, resorting to movie-of-the-week revelations of bulimia, homosexuality, and teen suicide in an attempt at both pathos and relevance. In the male-dominated world of teen films, there's always a need for smart, sensitive, female-centered coming-of-age movies. Girl isn't one of them.

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