Girl Asleep

· Thursday September 15, 2016

Girl Asleep isn’t a perfect film, but I guarantee you won’t regret watching it. I don’t fancy myself as a film expert, but this is an Australian movie about a girl going through puberty and boy oh boy do I know a lot about that. We follow Greta Driscoll around her new school then meet her family at home. She makes a friend (singular) and has a run-in with the sexy/scary popular girls. Things come to a trippy climax on the eve of her 15th birthday. In a simple sense, it’s a coming-of-age film, but describing it as such feels kind of reductive.

This movie has some super endearing and hyper-real moments, but it also takes you on a wholly symbolic and utterly crazy trip through the woods for at least 20 minutes. Example: One of Greta’s parents is trying to console her and says, “I miss my happy little girl,” in a way that literally sounded like my own mother’s voice. The way Greta’s father tells dad jokes, picks wedgies out of his butt, and slides his flip-flops over the carpet so they make a thwack thwack noise on his heels, is spookily reminiscent of the universal embarrassing-dad. The older sibling is impossibly cool and has a sexy French boyfriend. Tick! Tick! Tick! But then also there is a magical music box, puppetry, and a group-dance-number. Go figure.

Perhaps I have ideas about what films should be that are too rigid and so I couldn’t quite place Girl Asleep. I don’t know why some characters seem real where others appear to be caricatures. I don’t know why it has some on-point feminist ideals, but the “bad girls” at school only talk about guys. What I can tell you is that I literally laughed-out-loud multiple times. Solid belly-laughs, too. Greta’s mum is in bell-bottom jeans and wedges with a perfect blow-out, while on an exercise bike. Surreal scene changes constantly remind you not to take things too seriously (e.g. “Later That Night” is written on the side of a bucket of fried chicken that sits on the family dinner table in the foreground, to signify the passage of time between one shot and another) and it’s got a great soundtrack.

At the end of the day, really, it’s rare to see a movie that legitimately surprises you, right? If you spent a single dollar this year going to see another Marvel or DC superhero blockbuster, or if you’ve ever in your life seen a single Bourne movie, the you owe Girl Asleep some attention. Go see this movie to be pleasantly surprised. Don’t make the mistake I did and think too logically about it – let this film take you along. Look for the details in costume and setting (Greta’s dad is “in the carpet business”, LoL) and I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.