Amy (Sara West) is a seventeen-year-old with a troubled history. She has been in trouble, in and out of various schools and now finds herself on thin ice with her adoptive parents, particularly her father. The family move to regional Western Australia for a change of scenery and to isolate Amy from the bad influences in her life. She quickly befriends local girl Chloe (Samara Weaving). She seems like everything Amy isn’t–polite, industrious, helpful and respectful of her family. Amy’s parents hope that their daughter follows Chloe’s example.
Amy has no knack for friendship, preferring to act out her negativity and push away anyone who might get close. Therefore, she and Chloe get off to a rocky start, but soon she discovers there are aspects to the well-behaved country girl that were not evident at first sight. From there, Amy and Chloe’s journey of discovery turns into something darker than it first appears.
The first act of BAD GIRL establishes beyond question that Amy is bad news for anyone who cares for her. There is something about her adoption that has wounded this teenager. Her anger and rebellion have fractured her family and in a sense, all three people are hanging together by a thread. Sara West’s performance as Amy is impressive. She in completely convincing as an emotional button pusher and as someone quick to cast themselves in the role of victim.
Samara Weaving brings the disturbed quality that her character requires. As we see the truth about Chloe and see how her exterior appearance and interior reality are utterly mismatched, Weaving shows us new elements to Chloe’s out-of-kilter psyche.
Writer-Director Fin Edquist has created a tense thriller for what feels like a YA demographic audience. The film’s emotionally disturbed characters barely know who they are and have much familial baggage to get sorted. BAD GIRL’s young leads have the physical energy that adds yet another layer to the action and danger that unfolds. Or to put it another way, teenagers fighting for their lives with weapons is somehow scarier than watching older, slower actors attempting the same thing!
BAD GIRL looks like joining the pack one of Western Australian films released in the last twelve months that have made an impact on our screens and had support from the state’s film funding body ScreenWest; we’re talking about RED DOG:TRUE BLUE, JASPER JONES and the festival hit (and soon to be generally-released) HOUNDS OF LOVE. There seems to be something of a West Aussie film renaissance going on, WA cinema-goers, so get yourselves to your local movie house and catch this new wave of homegrown talent.
BAD GIRL releases on Thursday April 27. Duration: 90 minutes. (6/10)
Have a listen to Darran’s phoner interview with Samara Weaving.