The new Lolita, Dominique Swain, gives a bright, intelligent performance as an 18-year-old small-town girl who discovers sex, love and music the summer before she leaves the West for an Ivy League college in “Girl,” a well-cast, modestly effective pic aimed squarely at teens. Though no world-beater, pic could do some business, especially after Swain’s memorable portrayal in Adrian Lyne’s film maudit gets wider exposure later in the year, and it certainly has a long life in vidbins.
Andrea Marr (Swain) is the spoiled daughter of well-to-do, late-middle-age parents and lives in the affluent Porter City suburb of West Hills, 100 miles from Seattle. Still a virgin at 18, as is her best friend, Darcy (Selma Blair), she’s determined to end that condition as soon as possible, preferably with local rocker Todd Sparrow (Sean Patrick Flanery).
Though troubled by her sexuality (which she refers to as “this horrible thing that’s happened to me”), she willingly loses her virginity to a guy called Kevin (Channon Roe), while a Sparrow recording plays in the background. The experience isn’t a satisfactory one — “Think of it as a warm-up,” her friend Rebecca (Summer Phoenix), advises philosophically. But, after dumping Kevin, Andrea soon finds herself in bed with her dreamboat who, unfortunately for her, proves to be the love ’em and leave ’em type.
Swain gives an intelligent reading of the obsessed, hormone-driven and thoroughly confused heroine, and director Jonathan Kahn makes good use of a voice-over in which Andrea’s thoughts (sensible and considered) counterpoint her actions (impulsive and foolhardy) time and again.
Pic is narratively thin, but concentrates on the romantic problems of its heroine and the rocky road she treads on her way to becoming a woman. With its retro fashions and rock concert and nightclub settings, plus all that girl talk, pic is credible in depicting the struggle of adolescents through that difficult, end-of-high-school period.
Andrea gets on fine with her parents, but finds it impossible to communicate with them, and she behaves quite differently with them from the way she does when with her peers. By pic’s end she’s matured enormously and is a wiser, if not a sadder, girl.
Solid supporting cast, including Tara Reid as another member of the music scene and Portia Di Rossi as Sparrow’s glam sister, give Swain good support.
Production values are on the modest side, but adequate for this character-driven film in which the numerous sex scenes are chastely handled. Pic provides proof, if proof were needed after “Lolita,” that Swain, like the character she plays in “Girl,” is definitely on her way.