Spanish teen girls deal with existential ennui in “Blog,” an engaging debut from helmer-to-watch Elena Trape that’s high on credibility but low on drama. Mostly told through the video diaries of the pic’s bubbly, bored heroines, what could have seemed like a film-length YouTube upload from Bedroomsville has been slickly edited into a fresh, believable X-ray of teen angst, 2011-style. Awkwardly playing to neither teens nor their parents, pic has done mediocre B.O. in Spain but deserves fest love.
Bored with her uninspiring, school-dominated life, idealistic teen Marta (Candela Anton) decides to form a secret society. Via Internet chat, she pulls her friend Paula (Irene Trullen) into the project; then Sandra (Sara Gomez), whose asymmetrical hairstyle embodies the two sides of her character; successful but insecure Laura (Lidia Torrent); and a few more less-rounded characters. Aurea (Alada Vila) and Sandra carry the cam.
Dramatically, the pic hinges on just two issues: What will the girls do to bring some drama to their lives, and what will the consequences be? A delightful central scene features the gang tackling the drama problem by watching a hardcore porno movie (and munching popcorn, naturally). Their giggly, horrified reactions rep the pic’s comic high point.
“Blog” could easily have been a social harangue, but never is, although the issue of just why these girls, who have everything, still want more hangs uncomfortably unanswered over the proceedings. Non-pro thesps do good work both individually and collectively, but the helmer’s insistence on realism makes for dramatic monotony. Pic only just about earns its length, even through some of the more self-regarding monologues.
In Spain, “Blog” has been praised as probably the most honest portrait of teenage girls to come out of a country that generally prefers its screen femme teens wholesome. Any dreamy, “Virgin Suicides”-type noodlings are eschewed in favor of a straight-up, quasi-amateur-video style, consisting largely of either unsteadily lensed footage or shots of the girls talking into their computers, revealing themselves in ways they would never dare otherwise.
One rather elegant, lyrical sequence, which if described would spoil aud enjoyment, provides a glimpse of what Trape might be capable of if she opts for a more traditional approach. Songs, often guitar-based and by a range of mostly Spanish indie artists, are crucial to creating the effect of yearning romanticism that suffuses the girls’ lives.