This review was originally published on March 10, 2013 as part of Film.com's coverage of the 2013 SXSW Film Festival.
It’s not always easy to effectively translate the stage to the screen -- just ask Susan Stroman or Tom Hooper -- and director Daisy von Scherler Mayer walks that line trickily throughout her film adaptation of Neil LaBute’s play, “Some Girl(s).”
In a series of vignettes, we follow an unnamed writer (Adam Brody) as he crisscrosses the country in search of former flames. There’s Sam (Jennifer Morrison) in Seattle, Tyler (Mia Maestro) in Chicago, Linsday (Emily Watson) in Boston, Reggie (Zoe Kazan) in Seattle ... again, and finally Bobbi (Kristen Bell) in Los Angeles, and they have each played the part of “some girl” he has dated in stories from his past, whether they be overheard anecdotes in aisles of the neighborhood grocery store or widely published fictions in which he’s helped himself to the facts and simply changed the names.
And so we watch Brody’s character as he proceeds on his pre-nuptials ex-girlfriend catch-up tour, encountering all manner of temptation, frustration and resentment on his road to, seemingly, self-discovery and emotional closure for both parties at each stop along the way. For some, it was “just a kiss”; for others, full-blown affairs resulted in public humiliation. Naturally, not all are happy to see him again; when he makes his best case for this project, one explodes, “Oppenheimer meant well! Pol Pot meant well!”
It’s not hard to see how Brody’s usual charms might have seen him woo so many women (he’s considerately whittled it down to these priority partners from a number we never hear), and it’s not surprising when it’s revealed that his motives fall more in line with the basically despicable tradition of LaBute’s other male protagonists (“In the Company of Men,” “Your Friends & Neighbors,”
“The Wicker Man”). Mayer (“The Guru,” “Party Girl”) effectively prevents the recurring set-up of two adults in one hotel room from growing stale or stagy by keeping the camera close and loose, hovering over these exchanges about the nature of running away from, crawling back to and letting go of romantic relationships.
However, exceedingly mannered line deliveries initially give these back-and-forths an overly rehearsed and theatrical cadence, an accent of sorts that the performers -- all otherwise game for their respective roles in heartache -- then struggle to shake. Whenever they do, though, “Some Girl(s)” settles into a suitably savage or funny groove. As presented here, it’s minor LaBute, but nonetheless short and bittersweet.
SCORE: 7.3 / 10
"Some Girl(s) is now available in select theaters and through Vimeo on Demand.