Very Good Girls (2013) Dir. Naomi Foner


This movie boldly goes where very few movies have gone before. It focuses on women. Women of all ages, personalities, needs. Women young, undecided, searching. It centers around female attractions. Yet, there are no rules of attraction. The attraction rules. It rules people, and it shapes lives.

Lily (Dakota Fanning) and Gerri (Elizabeth Olsen) are attracted to each other, or to each other’s difference. Gerri is extroverted, carefree, artistic. Lily is introverted, silent, brooding. The opposites attract so they connect well. They’re best friends. They want the same things like other young people. They want to have fun, and they want to lose virginity before college, which is just around the corner. When they meet David (Boyd Holbrook), they both become attracted to him. They both hope to do it with him. They hang out with him. Gerri’s nature compels her to talk about David constantly. She analyzes and dissects every thought and feeling she has. Lily doesn’t say much about her feelings for him. She’s so closed-off she doesn’t admit to Gerry she’s also seeing David. The attraction plays all three of them like puppets. The girls fall for David. Yet, David falls only for one girl, but keeps seeing both. As the attraction grows stronger, the secret between two girls becomes unbearable.

Lily and Gerri share an attraction for their families. They would swap families if they could. Gerry wants to live in a more peaceful environment like Lily’s. On the other hand, Lily admires that Gerry’s family members can open up to each other about intimate issues. They feel attracted to the opposite, to what they don’t have. The movie points out that a family impacts us and our decisions. The girls’ mothers (Ellen Barkin, Demi Moore) shape their personalities. Their fathers (Clark Gregg, Richard Dreyfuss) are like mirror reflections. The young women seem to be like their parents. Yet, they make their own choices because and in spite of that.

The movie puts women in the focus. Naomi Foner, the writer and director, showcases how women of different ages deal with life. She touches upon issues like trust, guilt, and forgiveness. Her male characters are merely a catalyst, or even a background for the girls’ story. What she’s interested in is female emotions and mechanics behind their decisions. With what emotions do female characters go through changes, betrayal, loss? How they confront each other? The story is about women, their sexuality, their problems and joys. And that is a joy in itself.

Long days, pleasant nights,

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