CHICAGO – The issue of gender identity, especially for those who are born with a vagueness as to what to call themselves between/beyond boy and girl, has come front and center in the U.S., both with the legalization of gay marriage and the callous repudiation of identity by trying to pass laws dismissing it (the North Carolina “bathroom” laws). The performance companies of The Living Canvas and Nothing Without a Company is currently staging “[Trans]formation,” which presents gender identity art by six performers, who perform most of the play in the nude.
Film Review: Great Performance From Abbie Cornish Carries ‘The Girl’
CHICAGO – Let’s get this out of the way first – Abbie Cornish is simply great in David Riker’s “The Girl,” opening this weekend in Chicago at the AMC River East 21. She’s genuine, believable, and emotional resonant in ways that make this critic truly wish she would get more great roles (go rent “Bright Star” for further proof of her immense talents). Having said that, “The Girl” only barely works. Too much of the dialogue feels forced and the situations purposefully manipulative for it to fall on the right side of the soap opera-drama spectrum. There’s a heartfelt tenderness for this troubled character on Riker & Cornish’s part but it comes at the expense of realism or any serious answers to the questions raised by the film.
Texan Ashley (Abbie Cornish) is going through a serious rough patch in her life. She has lost custody of her son Georgie and is facing employment and sobriety problems as she struggles to regain him from his foster family. She can’t keep a job and the social worker trying to help her happens to come on the day morning that she’s left a bottle of tequila out. It doesn’t look good for Ashley.
|Read Brian Tallerico’s full review of “The Girl” in our reviews section.|
Her mood does not improve when her distant father (Will Patton) drops back into her life and asks her to take a little trip across the border to Mexico in his truck. On the way back, Ashley hears something in the cab of the truck and realizes that they’re transporting illegal immigrants. At first, she’s aghast but then she sees the financial potential. Thousands of people cross the border every day. If Ashley can help a few of them, make a few grand in the process (it’s 500 bucks a head), and then call it quits, it will give her the boost to get her life back together and get her son.
Of course, Ashley is ignoring everyone involved in these situations other than herself. No, the foster mother trying to take care of Georgie is not the villain. No, the social worker trying to help is not the villain. And, no, Ashley does not have the experience needed to help people across the border. Expectedly, things go wrong and Ashley is forced to deal with an abandoned girl, her role in the abandonment, and person responsibility in general.
Photo credit: Film Collective