Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Horse Girl, or: Surrounded by Neigh-Sayers

It’s never a bad thing to see more films written and directed by women, especially during Feminist February. This week’s pick stars and was co-written by Netflix legend Alison Brie (of GLOW, BoJack, and the show we don’t talk about on Netflix, Community). Qualification for Feminist February met. Qualification for fun evening of light entertainment? Er…very much dependent on your definition of fun.

The Film:

Horse Girl

The Premise:

A familial history of mental illness and increasingly paranoid conspiracy theories take over the life of a quiet craft store employee and horse enthusiast.

The Ramble:

A quiet woman who keeps to herself, Sarah is a craft store employee by day, obsessive fan of the TV show Purgatory by night, and lover of horses at all hours. Though she is friendly with boss Molly Shannon and roommate Nikki, Sarah prefers to keep some distance between herself and others. At any given moment, it seems Sarah would much rather be spending time with the horse she used to ride or with her favorite TV characters.

Two women stand inside next to a store window, wearing light blue apron uniforms over their everyday clothes.

When her birthday shakes her out of the usual routine, Sarah meets Darren, a friend of Nikki’s boyfriend. Both Sarah and Darren are rather awkward, with Darren droning on incessantly about concept albums and his horrible ex. Sarah, meanwhile, has been experiencing more and more strange symptoms–one of which is a nosebleed during their date. But Darren thinks Sarah is cute, and Sarah considers his name–shared with one of the lead characters of Purgatory–a sign that they’re meant to be.

After drinking too much and throwing up, Sarah has a strange dream in which she’s lying in a white room, two people sleeping on either side of her. When she wakes up the next morning, there are strange scratches on the walls, though Sarah has no recollection of how they got there.

A man and woman sit close together in a small, dimly lit dining area, facing each other from separate dining chairs.

Odd incidents begin happening more frequently during Sarah’s waking and dreaming life. Her car is stolen and, when it is found, the facts don’t quite add up. The key is in the car’s ignition, and the steering wheel lock sits unlocked on the passenger seat. Worried about the increasing number of times Sarah is forgetting things, she fears the mental illnesses that overtook her mother and grandmother’s lives may affect her too.

The alternative explanation that Sarah begins to embrace is that she is losing time due to alien abduction, and her vivid dreams are not dreams at all. Because she looks so much like her grandmother, Sarah begins to believe she is a clone created by aliens. When she sees the man from her dream in real life, Sarah becomes convinced her theory is the truth and is obsessed with tracking him down. She even goes as far as hiring his company to do unnecessary pipe replacement and follows him to his home one evening.

A woman in a dark room looks down. She is covered from head to toe in a light pink outfit that covers everything except for her face.

When she meets Darren for another date, Sarah begins explaining her theories to him, and their discussion turns more broadly to conspiracies. It’s only when Sarah shows Darren her mother’s grave and tells him they need to dig her up to compare their DNA that he realizes how deeply she believes in her own conspiracy theories.

After performing a series of rituals at home to trick the aliens, Sarah wanders into the craft store completely naked. She is taken into a psychiatric care facility, but only becomes more convinced that she’s been right all along during her stay there, and less able to distinguish between reality and dreams. Will psychiatric care help Sarah be well at this point…and does she even want to?

The Rating:

3.5/5 Pink Panther Heads

Alison Brie deserves so much credit for this role–as with many of the characters she plays, here a seemingly innocuous person is more complex and disturbed than she initially appears. Brie makes Sarah a sympathetic character whose odd behavior at the beginning of the film merely scratches the surface on the delusions and feelings she experiences later. And the extreme thoughts and feelings Sarah has are out of touch with reality, but they never feel laughable–they are unquestionably real to her.

This concept is what makes the film so compelling, and at times scary to watch. It’s very interested in asking to what extent biology is destiny: does the mental illness or trauma we inherit from our families predict our own dysfunction? And, perhaps more importantly, what does it mean to manage mental illness? Sarah’s delusions seem to give her a sense of real conviction for the first time in her life. It seems likely that her dedication to the show Purgatory and need for her life to have some sort of narrative structure plays a role in her willingness to believe in her own version of reality. But would her DNA have led her down the same path regardless?

The film itself can be difficult to follow at times, as its structure is somewhat loose, and uses this to blur the lines between dream and reality (and, honestly, the tone is quite wonky as well). This quality does keep things interesting as we continue to hope Sarah can heal; however, it’s increasingly impossible to imagine an ending in which she finds both peace and clarity. I feel fairly certain this film will haunt anyone who has experienced mental illness.

Would my blog wife don matching alien-proof body suits with this one or run away while it’s distracted with a marathon of Ancient Aliens? Read her review here to find out!

Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Bitch, or: Who Let the Dogs Out?

#feminism. Like all things trendy, sometimes the tag truly reflects a message of female empowerment, and other times it misses the mark entirely. This week’s film–written, directed by, and starring Marianna Palka–addresses feminist themes, but is it feminist? The answer is a resounding “sort of.”

TW: suicide attempt

The Film:

Bitch

The Premise:

After being pushed too far, a depressed wife and mother finally snaps, adopting the behavior and mannerisms of a female dog.

The Ramble:

With her artistic ambitions crushed by the burden of caring for her children as her useless husband spends nights with his secretary, Jill’s future looks pretty bleak. So bleak, in fact, that she attempts to hang herself from a chandelier in the family’s suburban home.

Haunted by an ever-present neighborhood dog, overwhelmed with running around for the children, and failing to get any support beyond throwing pills at the problem, Jill mentally calls it quits. After initially ceasing to respond to her children at all, it later becomes clear that Jill isn’t exactly herself. She is, in fact, now behaving like a dog, barking and walking around on all fours included.

A woman with an extremely dirty face looks over her shoulder, baring her teeth threateningly.

Husband Bill is not so much concerned as highly annoyed with Jill’s selfishness. Not only is he now responsible for figuring out the kids’ needs and routines, but he also needs to keep things afloat at work amid massive layoffs. In need of back up, Bill reaches out to Jill’s sister Beth. However, even with the support of Beth and a number of mental health specialists, Jill remains a snarling mass growling around in the basement.

A group of four children sit in the hallway of their home. An older boy sits by himself, while an older girl covers the ears of her younger brother, who in turn covers his younger sister's ears.

After a rather dysfunctional Christmas with unhappy children and a welfare check from the police, Bill breaks down and momentarily splits. When he comes back home, Bill seems to understand the blame that was constantly hurled at Jill when she didn’t keep everything at home running smoothly…only to reveal how clueless he is when he blames all of his problems on his much too enormous penis.

Things go from bad to worse when Bill loses his job, Jill escapes, and he is caught (admittedly breaking up) with his mistress. It takes losing Jill to the care of her family to make Bill regret the way he treated her before. But that doesn’t make life suddenly a walk in the dog park. Is it too late to save their marriage or even bring Jill back to her usual self?

The Rating:

2.5/5 Pink Panther Heads

I credit this film for its ambition. The incredibly dark comedy premise here is brilliant as it approaches the concept of a woman perceived as a bitch on a literal level. I appreciate the satire here as a woman who has repeatedly heard that she can and should have it all is pushed to the breaking point–and considered selfish when experiencing mental illness.

However, there are a lot of moments that fall short of this film’s promise. Jill’s mental illness is initially treated as something inconvenient or in need of a quick fix, though the members of her family eventually accept the new version of Jill. This doesn’t quite work for me as Jill clearly is very ill and not in control of her actions. There’s a sort of odd fairy tale quality to the logic of the story in which Bill’s revelation that he’s been fucking up this entire time is needed to restore Jill’s sanity, and that’s…problematic, to say the least.

I think this gets to the film’s biggest issue: despite playing the titular bitch and serving as the catalyst setting up the rest of the film, Jill isn’t really the focus here. Rather, it is Bill who must unlearn his toxic habits. And while he does need to suffer here to appreciate the worth of Jill’s labor and love, it feels unintentionally bleak that this is the only way for him to learn. Additionally, the idea that the power rests with Bill to change their relationship for the better undermines the entire point of this film.

It’s also difficult that one of Bill’s big moments to show his growth as a character happens when he acts like a dog in a dog park. This scene is stuck somewhere between funny and uplifting, and just ends up feeling uncanny. There’s something profoundly sad about a man barking around on all fours in public, even if he is putting on this performance as encouragement for his wife.

This may say more about me as a person than the nature of this film, but I could’ve happily seen Bill end up with a much darker fate. It would be such a shame if he could no longer blame that big dick for all of his problems.

Would my blog wife take this film for its daily walk or snarl at it from a dimly lit basement? Find out in her review here!

Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Wild Rose, or: I Och the Line

It’s February on the Blog Collab, meaning all month long will be dedicated to feminism on film! Kicking things off is a tale of that smooth Nashville sound in…Glasgow?

The Film:

Wild Rose

The Premise:

An aspiring country singer dreams of starting over in Nashville as she struggles to balance her hopes for the future with her responsibilities in the present.

The Ramble:

After serving out a prison sentence, Glaswegian Rose-Lynn is intent on one thing only: making it to Nashville to prove her talent as the rising country music star she knows she is.

Too bad Rose has a couple of considerations that need her attention first: specifically, her young children, Wynonna and Lyle. Those pesky kids! While incarcerated, Rose’s children have been living with their grandmother, Marion. And you know she’s a fierce, no-nonsense woman because she’s played by Julie Walters.

A red-haired woman blows out the candles on her birthday cake, sitting between two young children and an older woman with white hair.

Having burned her bridges, Rose’s efforts to reclaim her spot on the stage of Glasgow’s Grand Ole Opry fail miserably. In need of a day job where she can earn money and meet the curfew set by her ankle monitor, Rose finagles her way into a position cleaning the home of a wealthy family (conveniently leaving out her past trouble with the law).

It’s not long before mom of the family Susannah learns of Rose’s gifts as a musician. Rose has an almost non-existent sense of shame, asking Susannah outright for the money to send her to Nashville. Though Susannah declines this request, she does help her get in contact with BBC radio DJ Bob Harris, who is impressed with her style.

A woman stands onstage with the members of a band playing string instruments, percussion, and the accordion.

Though Rose’s children seem to fall somewhere in the middle of her list of priorities, she does begin to make a serious effort to make amends. Cleaning the house and fixing breakfast earn her some credit, and reading through their accomplishments at school has her almost caught up on the time she’s missed.

After an invite to London to meet with Bob, Rose works with her lawyer to have the ankle monitor removed. Tellingly, she insists that her crime of attempting to smuggle heroin wasn’t her fault, and the person to blame in all of this is the judge. In keeping with her past behavior, Rose gets drunk on the way to London and ends up losing her bag. Though she receives encouragement from Bob to write and perform her own songs, the meeting brings Rose no closer to Nashville.

A middle-aged African-American woman stands outside in a garden, facing a white woman with red hair.

Susannah, on the other hand, offers a solution. Rose will perform at her 50th birthday party. The upper-crust guests, instead of bringing gifts for Susannah, will sponsor Rose’s trip to Nashville. The catch? Rose will need to rehearse during the week prior, which incidentally is the week she promised her children a trip to the beach.

After disappointing her children, Rose reveals the truth about her past to Susannah, thus dashing her dreams of a future in Nashville. When she finds a proper job, it seems Rose is ready to settle down and let go of her dreams. Is this really the life that will make fiery Rose happy?

The Rating:

4/5 Pink Panther Heads

Julie Walters could have just scowled disapprovingly throughout this entire film and I still would have loved her. Luckily, she does much more with the tough character she plays here, showing the frustration for her daughter comes from a place of love.

Jessie Buckley is also phenomenal in her role; Rose is very often a difficult character to root for. She absolutely will not take responsibility for her life during most of the film and seems pretty comfortable with disappointing the people around her–especially her children. But her gritty determination, as well as her growth as a character, come through beautifully. And I am obsessed with her voice; there’s so much soulful country sadness there. I dare you to look me in the eye and tell me you weren’t a weepy mess during Rose’s final song, a lovely ode to home and family.

Did the three chords and the truth here speak to my fierce blog wife or would she skip to the next song ASAP? Read her review here to find out!

a woman with teased hair extinguishes a candle's flame with her fingers while a woman with hair in a scrunchie looks directly at the camera
Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

The Breaker Upperers, or: All My Life I’ve Prayed for Some Movie Like You

It’s almost March, meaning Feminist February is drawing to a close.  I’m sad the month is ending, but happy to report we’re wrapping up this month on a positive note with dramatic break-ups, surprise Kiwi cameos, and all of the ’90s vibes you can stand.

The Film:

The Breaker Upperers

The Premise:

Two best friends find their relationship and shared business venture in jeopardy when clients get too close and an ex arrives in town.

The Ramble:

In addition to being besties, New Zealanders Mel and Jen are business partners in a rather unique profession.  Their job?  Deliver bad break-up news for those who go to extreme measures to avoid it themselves.  The duo can hardly be faulted for lacking creativity; their methods include song and dance, fake deaths, police investigations, and surprise pregnancies.

Though a rather cynical line of work, Mel and Jen run a profitable business and enjoy living their best lives free of romantic entanglements.

a woman with pigtail braids stands next to a woman in a cowboy hat who is playing the guitar and harmonica

That is, of course, until the day everything changes.  After Jordan, a sweet but clueless client, walks into the office, he disrupts the usually reliable business model.  Mel feels guilty for using Jordan’s unhappiness to make money and happens to find him quite attractive too.

Complications abound when Jen’s ex, who also seems to be the one that got away, arrives back in town.  His presence surfaces tensions between Mel and Jen as he was dating both women secretly when he broke Jen’s heart.

Despite Mel’s misgivings about the latest breakup case, the duo arrives at Jordan’s rugby match to cause a scene.  Jordan’s girlfriend Sepa is a tough lady, and not one to be trifled with.  As a result, when Mel pretends to be Jordan’s pregnant lover and Jen his mother, the plan does not go as expected.  However, at the end of the day, Jordan is single and Mel is free to have a fling with him.

a woman with cornrows surrounded by four other people looks intimidatingly at another woman

Meanwhile, the ladies’ history catches up with them as a client’s girlfriend approaches them at lunch for an update on her partner’s disappearance.  Mel and Jen demonstrate an impressive commitment to keeping up the facade that they are cops investigating the case, going so far as to show up at the police station in full uniform and posing as birthday strippers for a real cop.

Inevitably, the true nature of Mel and Jen’s work is revealed, leaving Mel feeling guilty.  A fight between our dynamic duo about Mel becoming too attached to clients and Jen avoid feelings altogether finally breaks up the band.

a woman dressed as a police officer swings her utility belt around while another woman in police uniform looks on

As both Sepa and Jen have been ditched and want their partners back, it’s time for a grand gesture to prove their devotion.  But is an expertly choreographed K-Ci and JoJo dance routine enough to heal old wounds and reunite these former besties?

The Rating:

4/5 Pink Panther Heads

I feel this movie was made for the Blog Collab.  Obviously the pro-friendship/anti-romantic themes are everywhere in some of our favorite picks.  Also the weird, offbeat humor had me in tears.  Mel makes an especially cringeworthy joke about a superhero named Vulvarine during dinner with Jen’s parents that cracked me up.

My only criticism here is that Mel’s bisexuality seems to be mentioned purely for laughs.  I got tired of all of the jokes about Jen and Mel being romantically involved.  Friends, lovers, life partners–who cares?

Though this is not a musical, we get not one, but two incredibly ’90s-influenced song and dance numbers.  The first one, set to a Céline Dion song, is everything to me.  I pray to the powers of the universe that the next film with our two stars is a musical or just a series of music video parodies.

I love both of our leads, Madeleine Sami and Jackie van Beek (who also co-wrote and directed this film), but honestly Ana Scotney as Sepa steals the show.  She manages to inhabit the tough girl stereotype while lending the role a vulnerability hidden beneath the surface.  Sepa also gets my absolute favorite line of the film when the breakup with Jordan throws her for a loop:  “All the times we played Dragon Ball Z–does that mean nothing to you?”

Speaking of this film’s cast, there are some delightful cameos here too.  I know you can just Google the cast, but the fun of these appearances is in the surprise.

Is this my blog wife’s bff for life or would she hire the breaker upperers to make sure she never has to face it again?  Find out in her review here!

Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Whip It, or: The Bo City Rollers

Bookshop owner-operators, scantily clad entertainers at a sports bar, Texas roller derby girls–what else could these characters have in common but Feminist February?

The Film:

Whip It

The Premise:

When she secretly joins a roller derby team, teenaged Bliss finds a second family but puts her other relationships–and skeletal system–at risk.

The Ramble:

In addition to her rather unfortunate name, teenager Bliss has inherited the burden of her mother’s expectations:  specifically, her expectation that Bliss will take the beauty pageant scene by storm as her mother did.

After an incident with blue hair dye gone awry, it becomes clear that Bliss’s mother takes pageants much more seriously than her daughter.  In fact, even Bliss’s younger sister seems more excited about competing despite her young age.

Though stuck in the small Texas town of Boden, it’s not all bad.  Bliss has her fellow waitress and bff Pash to keep her company and get into all of the best kinds of trouble with.  As long as she has her bestie, Bliss seems resigned to her fate as a perpetual beauty contestant.

two girls at a diner talk next to the bar, both wearing pink aprons with pig faces on them

That is, until one day while shopping with her mother, Bliss sees a group of giggling women swan in on roller skates.  From flyers they pass around, Bliss learns these are derby girls and decides she will find a way to get to the derby in Austin.

Under the guise of attending a high school football game, Bliss and Pash drive to Austin to check out the roller derby.  Bliss is immediately interested in both the sport and a generically cute guy.  After derby girl Maggie Mayhem invites Bliss to try out on Tuesday, she schemes to cover up her absence with her parents, find a route to Austin via public transport, and conveniently forget the rule that players must be at least 21.

Trying out for the Hurl Scouts is no cake walk–the women are fast, intense, and fully ready to body check competitors in this contact sport.  As a speedy skater, Bliss is a perfect contender for the role of jammer, the only one on each team who can score points.  The jammers will attempt to lap the other team members, scoring a point for each lap.  Fellow team members will help their jammer along while trying to sabotage the other team’s jammer–frequently with physical contact that can leave a vicious bruise.

two women in helmets crouch next to each other, preparing to race in a roller derby rink

Despite Bliss’s speed, she timidly avoids altercations with her competitors–kind of a problem in a contact sport.  However, she does join the team and earn her derby girl name, Babe Ruthless.

It’s only after joining the team that Bliss learns the Hurl Scouts are notorious in the league as constant losers.  As the song goes, girls just wanna have fun, and the team really leans into its reputation.  They certainly aren’t improving their odds by ignoring their long-suffering coach and refusing to carry out the plays from his painstakingly created play book.

While bonding with the team after hours, Bliss runs into the cute guy again at a party.  She learns that he, like every other 20-something dude since the beginning of time, is in a shitty band that thinks it’s destined for greatness.  Oliver, which I think is actually a nice name and better than this dude deserves, and his band do seem to have some success as they do have an album.

a teenage boy and girl lie next to each other on the hood of a car parked by a field

With Bliss as jammer and the coach’s plays guiding their games, the Hurl Scouts begin to enjoy success too, winning against some of the other teams for the first time ever.  Everything seems to be falling into place for Bliss, who also gets serious with Oliver in an underwater sex scene that looks logistically very difficult to accomplish.

a group of women toast a teenage girl at a diner, holding up a poster of her

However, things inevitably begin to unravel after the police break up a derby that violates fire safety regulations.  Caught with beer in hand, Pash is arrested.  Bliss, who escapes with Oliver, doesn’t realize the trouble her bff is in.  To make matters worse, Bliss’s parents learn the truth about her roller derby nights as a result, Bliss’s rival Iron Maven discovers that her fiercest competitor is just 17, and Oliver will shortly be off on tour with the band.

Having alienated everyone she cares about and put the Hurl Scouts’ chance at victory in jeopardy, will Bliss be able to make things right while following her dreams?

The Rating:

3.5/5 Pink Panther Heads

The cast here is absolutely stellar:  Ellen Page (even though she sometimes falls into the trap of playing the same character over and over again), Marcia Gay Harden, Kristen Wiig, Eve, Alia Shawkat, Drew Barrymore…I could go on.  Additionally, this is Drew Barrymore’s directorial debut.  Not sure if Drew decided against sitting in the director’s chair again because I can’t think of another reason we live in a world with no more director credits for her.

As well as Bliss’s coming of age story, I love the focus on the ladies here and their relationships.  Bliss and Pash’s relationship is everything to me, and the rapport among the Hurl Scouts is so uplifting.  The film approaches Bliss’s difficult relationship with her mother realistically but doesn’t paint Brooke as a one-dimensional monster, which is refreshing.  As for the men, if you’re not here to support Bliss, you’re not welcome at all.  Men are definitely on the sidelines in this film.

However, there are a few issues that stood out to me with the film too.  The entire storyline with Oliver feels unnecessary.  I know the sexual awakening scene is basically a requirement of any coming-of-age film now, but I gave zero fucks about it.  At least this film doesn’t idealize teenage romance with what is essentially a mediocre white dude who plays guitar slightly above average.

I also felt like I was missing some further explanation of Brooke’s insistence on Bliss’s beauty pageant participation and opposition to roller derby.  Is the pageant supposed to pay for Bliss to attend college?  Did pageants mean so much to Brooke that she thinks it’s important for Bliss to carry on the tradition?  I would’ve liked a bit more depth as the (spoiler) reversal of her parents’ strong anti-derby stance feels a little too convenient.

The roller derby name “Jabba the Slut” deserves its own corner of appreciation, though.

Would my blog wife roll with this one or knock it out of the ring?  Find out by reading her review here!

Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Support the Girls, or: Double Whammy

Small business owners, determined managers–we really expected Feminist February to uplift and inspire us.  However, both of our first picks this months have been something of a bummer.  You’ll see what I mean with this week’s pick, in which even a title with a clever double entendre fails to deliver on the promise of lighthearted fun.

The Film:

Support the Girls

The Premise:

The caring manager of a sports bar experiences a hellish day that forces her to reevaluate her priorities.

The Ramble:

To say Lisa isn’t having her best day ever is an understatement.  The manager of the struggling bar Double Whammies–a local twist on the Hooters franchise–begins the day with the news that thuds emanating from the attic are those of an attempted burglar who got stuck in the building’s vents.

a woman with a clipboard talks to a woman wearing a crop top and nametag

Today is the day of a big fight that the sports bar is counting on making big business.  Before the real work begins, Lisa squeezes in a car wash fundraiser to “support the girls” that isn’t quite approved by the bar’s owner.  After receiving the news that one of her former girls is in trouble after running over her boyfriend in a rage, the caring Lisa is determined to help her out with the funds raised in the car wash.

Lisa is incredibly protective of her girls, treating them more like family than employees.  She is especially close to cool and collected Danyelle and bubbly Maci, both hardworking ladies who are equally willing to support their boss.

a group of young women in matching crop tops stand around one of the tables in a sports bar

As you may imagine, some of the customers are creepy, hostile, rude, aggressive, or all of the above.  Lisa suffers no fools and is quick to throw out anyone caught behaving inappropriately.  The regular customers bring challenges of their own, including overly nosy and observant lesbian Bobo (but personally I fucking love Bobo).

Complicating things further, the cable at the bar is suddenly cut off.  Despite Lisa’s best efforts, the cable provider doesn’t seem inclined to speedily restore service.

When owner Cubby arrives on the scene, not only does he lecture Lisa about the cable, but he also points out the questionable legality of the car wash fundraiser.  Cubby seems determined to burst Lisa’s bubble as he shows her the location of a soon-to-be-opened competitor that could close down Double Whammies.  After a road rage incident and a fight in which Cubby fires Lisa (yet again), she decides to finally accept the termination of her job.

a man stands with hands on hips in a sports bar as a woman talks to him

Luckily, Lisa’s husband is willing to pick her up and take her back to work to get her car.  Unfortunately, the car ride will also involve a rather serious conversation about their future together as a couple.  While her husband is depressed and seems to have more or less given up, Lisa is a workaholic and fails to make time for their relationship.  Prognosis?  Not good.

Finally, Lisa receives disappointing news about Shaina, the girl she worked hard to raise money for at the day’s earlier car wash.  The disillusionment is final and thorough.

Will Lisa swallow her pride and go back to the bar or step forward into an uncertain future?

The Rating:

3.5/5 Pink Panther Heads

I really expected to like this one more than I did; however, I may have myself to blame.  Given the double entendre title, the movie posters with confident-looking Regina Hall, and perhaps just wishful thinking, I expected a positive, upbeat comedy about the ladies of Double Whammies banding together through tough times.

The film takes a much darker and more realistic approach to the emotional toll of treating employees as family and allowing work to consume your life.  While Lisa cares deeply about the girls she employs, the owner doesn’t share her concern, and this emotional investment disadvantages her.  Ultimately, it makes Lisa much more inclined to fight losing battles that cost her a lot personally and emotionally–battles that even the owner doesn’t seem invested in.  And honestly, her efforts to support her employees in tough times aren’t always appreciated; Lisa’s good intentions as a manager tend to go too far.

The bond between Lisa, Danyelle, and Maci is great, though.  And Bobo 4 life; would watch a sequel about these 4 ladies.

Would my blog wife support this one or let the ladies hang freely?  Read her review here to find out!

a woman with crossed arms leans against a bookcase in a shop
Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

The Bookshop, or: Shelf-Employed

Hallelujah, it’s Feminist February! Not only is this month a celebration of ladies in film, but it’s also the birth month of the Blog Collab! This week, we vicariously fulfill our dreams of opening the quaintest fucking bookshop ever to exist.

The Film:

The Bookshop

The Premise:

A woman in 1950s England faces local opposition to her plans to open and operate her own smalltown bookshop.

The Ramble:

Recently widowed Florence Green is devastated by her husband’s death. However, as stiff upper lip is the English way, she tries to make the best of things by achieving her lifelong dream of opening a bookshop.

a woman reads alone in a field near the beach on a cloudy day

In order to do so, Florence must overcome a surprising amount of opposition from the members of her sleepy coastal town. Only one person in town seems to be much of a reader, so the bank finds little reason to believe her venture will be a solid investment. This leaves Florence to rub elbows at fancy rich people parties which, in true book nerd fashion, she is painfully terrible at carrying off.

Unwittingly, Florence’s bookshop plans have set up queen bee of the town Violet as her archnemesis. Violet has grand plans of her own for the historic building that happens to be Florence’s home: she envisions a grand arts center, despite the small town not having much art and culture to go around.

Even with the scheming of Violet and her toady Milo, Florence manages to convert her home into a cozy little bookshop. The shop is a true labor of love as Florence is the only employee until she hires an assistant, 11-year-old Christine. Though Christine gives zero fucks about reading, she’s nevertheless a dedicated and hardworking employee. The two bond over their determination to keep the bookshop alive and thriving.

a girl looks at postcards with interest while a woman observes with crossed arms

Meanwhile, Brundish, the only reader in town becomes more and more invested in Florence’s success. In addition to being the only game in town, Florence has the knack for tracking down the perfect book for Brundish. After introducing him to Ray Bradbury, she asks for his opinion on selling Lolita in her shop despite its questionable morality.

an older man talks to the camera from behind several piles of books

Deciding to go all-in for Lolita, Florence stocks 250 copies and scandalizes the entire town. Has she finally gone too far? It seems likely when Florence is forced to close the doors on the shop. Though Brundish stands up for her against Violet, in a tragic twist, Florence ends up losing her last remaining ally.

Is there any hope left for Florence and her little bookshop?

The Rating:

3/5 Pink Panther Heads

As a feminist being into it when ladies are small business owners, I wanted to like this. As a book person, I reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeally wanted to like this. Florence is basically living my dream life here with her small bookshop in a beautiful little coastal town. But honestly, most of this movie is boring AF and I couldn’t even get invested in the whole cute little bookshop fantasy. And this time it’s not the chemical inbalances in my brain because I have pills for that.

The characters are not super compelling either. Even Bill Nighy’s character is just kind of blah, and that makes it difficult to invest in any of the character relationships. The relationship between Florence and Christine is supposed to be the heart of the film, but it falls flat and fails to create the wistful ending it aims for.

Not to be too spoiler-y, but this film could also be called Christine: That Escalated Quickly.

The landscape and adorable little shops and cottages are lovely, though.

Would my blog wife invest in this one or scheme to shut it down? Read her review here to find out!