Almost like a spiritual journey, this film brings together dramatic moments and a sort of coming of age vibe as the main character learns about herself when undergoing new experiences. It’s not exactly the most engaging, entertaining or exciting film but led by an absorbing Dianna Agron it keeps the interest up to an average level.
Supermarket cashier Sarah Barton (Dianna Agron) finds a drifter in the antiques shop owned by her family. Pepper (Paz de la Huerta) has contacts in the local strip joint and it isn’t long until normally innocent Sarah is wrapped up in a world of drugs, stripping and Pepper herself.
Directed and written by Natalia Leite, this film has to be fair, a good structure and follows the struggles of Sarah as well as can be expected. It feels and sounds like a very indie movie, what with Pepper spieling off comparisons to herself being an octopus or the smoky, wafty way we see drug trips or the lesbian affair between the two females. Leite seems to do less well with offering up any riveting insight into the strip club world or the characters around it.
The environment we see comes across in a feeling kind of way, if I can write that making sense!? What I mean is that Reno, Nevada and the Blue Room club possess an atmosphere as if speaking a story to us but sadly the characters don’t hold much gripping investment. There is a spiritual mood to this Tribeca Film Festival premiered film and you vaguely get swept up into a feminine vulnerability and sexual whirl but by the end everything feels a bit dry and forgettable.
It is a good debut for Leite though, showing that she knows how to present the strained longings of a woman trapped in a place, wanting out but not knowing what to expect on that other side. The people, muttering about each other or customers blinkered to the boredom of everyday life speak volumes and Sarah as the hopeful wanderer getting a chance meeting with the experienced and unstable Pepper is a great pairing that at least sets off an initial spark even if it doesn’t light up as bright as it could.
There’s good music to be had, that seems to float in without you knowing, nothing pumps distractingly over the top of scenes, it’s there in a good way just as a meandering background noise that enhances that consistent spiritual quality. At times, it sounds like the angelic tones to be heard in the awesomely sound-tracked ‘Drive’, that characteristic music aiding the story well.
Dianna Agron jumps from the cheerleader steps of ‘Glee’ to this more exposed and much more dynamic role of Sarah. She goes in without any trepidations and bares her art in a performance that’s believable and fragile. You stay with the film because of her journey and the way she makes Sarah come alive, not just because I’m slightly more than in love with her! Paz de la Huerta is just right for the wild one, her crazy look and stumbling words make Pepper a totally believable character even if she doesn’t have much more do than set off Sarah’s new path.
A concoction of sex, identity and progression all tumble together in a pretty neat manner, only let down by a sometimes lack of interest and solid ideas throughout the feature.