You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Film Review: ‘The Girl Is in Trouble’

Columbus Short plays a Lower East Side noir protagonist in this overamped drama.

Columbus Short, Alicja Bachleda, Wilmer Valderrama, Jesse Spencer, Miriam Colon, Paz de la Huerta, Kareem Savinon.

Official Site: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1706625/

A textbook noir premise gets an overamped and undercompelling treatment in “The Girl Is in Trouble,” the story of a struggling Lower East Side DJ (Columbus Short) who becomes embroiled in the fallout from a murder, courtesy of the title’s damsel in distress (Alicja Bachleda). Sporting plenty of twists but few surprises, this stylish yet derivative eOne day-and-date release seems most likely to be watched by viewers who — like its hero — stumble in by accident.

Said DJ, the Nigerian-born August (Short), is contacted at 2:30 a.m. by Signe (Bachleda), a stunning Swede with whom he almost hooked up on a prior occasion. It must be fate: A funny montage illustrates that he’s quite far down her call list. Wearing only a trenchcoat and flip-flops and desperate for a place to stay, she sleeps with him that night, in what August, the next morning, comes to regard as a femme fatale’s ploy to steal his cash. At that time, August also discovers she’s carrying a camera-phone video that implicates smarm king Nicholas (Jesse Spencer) in a murder.

Nicholas, the son of a financial-sector bigwig modeled on Bernie Madoff, has the power and wealth to cover up the killing. But August and Signe decide to confront him with the evidence. In one of the plot’s many coincidences, Nicholas bears responsibility for getting August fired from a bartending gig.

First-time feature director Julius Onah and his co-screenwriter, Mayuran Tiruchelvam, somewhat clumsily paint in shades of gray. Moody, daddy-hating Nicholas haplessly saws Beethoven’s 7th on his prized violin. Signe’s motives are in constant doubt. This is the sort of film in which, even in the midst of a blackmail scheme, the two sort-of lovers can go clubbing to celebrate a moment when “everything felt possible again.”

Meanwhile, on a Lower East Side whose residents seem to know one another better than the neighbors in your average Gotham walk-up, Angel (Wilmer Valderrama) searches for the deceased, his brother, Jesus (Kareem Savinon), who had gone to Nicholas’ home to sell drugs. August is one of the first people he interrogates. Paz de la Huerta appears briefly as a woman who leads Angel to the site of the crime.

At the outset, August, in an uncharismatic voiceover, says he wishes he could tell this coke-fueled story from beginning to end; unfortunately, he doesn’t “remember it that way,” and Onah tries to liven up the straightforward scenario with a scrambled chronology and sudden digressions. One montage introduces us to a long list of Facebook friends, even though August admits there’s no need for viewers to remember most of them. Another sequence runs through the history of immigrant groups on the Lower East Side — the sort of topical tangent one associates with executive producer Spike Lee. The film shoehorns in an awkward flashback to show us what really happened the night of the crime. (Structurally, the flashback also counters a moment of blunt misogyny from August.)

The movie was filmed in several formats, but Super 35 contributes to a sleek, saturated look. Onah pays apparent homage to Lee in a few shots that evoke the “Do the Right Thing” director’s trademark double-dolly.

Film Review: 'The Girl Is in Trouble'

Reviewed online, New York, April 1, 2015. Running time: 94 MIN.

Production: An Entertainment One release of a Deer Jen Films and Toy Closet Films production in association with CinemaStreet and RCR Partners. Produced by Julius Onah, Robert Profusek, Ryan Silbert, Jen Gatien, Dana Offenbach, Mark Campbell. Executive producers, Spike Lee, Rui Costa Reiss, Jonathan Bird, Daniel Reznick. Co-producers, Katie Mustard, Mayuran Tiruchelvam. Co-executive producer, Irina Ginzburg.

Crew: Directed by Julius Onah. Screenplay, Onah, Mayuran Tiruchelvam. Camera (color, widescreen), Rick Lopez; editor, Sabine Hoffman; music, Gregg Lehrman; production designer, Chris Trujillo; set decorator, Bianca Butti; costume designer, Sarah Mae Burton; sound, Will Masisak; visual effects, The Molecule; stunt coordinator, Manny Siverio; associate producers, Joanna Meek, Matthew Greenbaum; assistant director, Zeke Dunn; casting, Sig De Miguel, Stephen Vincent.

With: Columbus Short, Alicja Bachleda, Wilmer Valderrama, Jesse Spencer, Miriam Colon, Paz de la Huerta, Kareem Savinon.

More Film

  • Apollo 11

    Film News Roundup: 'Armstrong' Doc Set for Release on 50th Anniversary of Moon Landing

    In today’s film news roundup, a Neil Armstrong documentary and “The Invisible Man” get release dates, “Forrest Gump” and “Saving Private Ryan” get re-released and Patrick Fugit gets cast. RELEASE DATES Gravitas Ventures has bought worldwide rights to the Neil Armstrong documentary “Armstrong” and will open the film on July 12 in theaters and on [...]

  • Inside Goop's Wellness Summit With Gwyneth

    Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop Summit Proves Hollywood Retirement Is Working for Her

    Across the country on Saturday, movie theaters sold over $12 million in tickets to “Avengers: Endgame,” helping it amass $771 million in the U.S. since its release in April. On the same day, in a stunning urban greenhouse complex in DTLA, the film’s supporting star Gwyneth Paltrow counted tickets of her own — pricey, perk-loaded [...]

  • Johnny Depp

    Johnny Depp's Ex-Lawyers Claim He Owes $350,000

    Johnny Depp was hit with a $350,000 lawsuit on Monday from a law firm that claims he has not paid his bills. Depp retained Buckley LLP in the fall of 2017 to sue his former entertainment law firm, Bloom Hergott LLP, which he accused of pocketing $30 million in fees without a written agreement. Three [...]

  • Keanu Reeves stars as 'John Wick'

    'John Wick 4' Confirmed With a 2021 Release Date

    John Wick will be back in exactly two years and a day. Lionsgate announced Monday that it has scheduled “John Wick 4” for May 21, 2021. The studio made the announcement via a text message to fans: “You have served. You will be of service. John Wick: Chapter 4 is coming – May 21, 2021.” [...]

  • Krysanne Katsoolis Sets Up Viewpark With

    Krysanne Katsoolis Sets Up Viewpark With $200 Million Fund

    Veteran film industry executive Krysanne Katsoolis has launched Viewpark, which will finance, package and release high-end film and TV content. Viewpark has partnered with former Wall Street executive Keith Price’s Obsidian Asset Management to create a multi-million dollar fund for the production and marketing of its slate, Katsoolis told Variety. Obsidian, based in London and [...]

  • Elle FanningChopard Trophee dinner, 72nd Cannes

    Elle Fanning Faints at Cannes Dinner Party

    Elle Fanning, a member of this year’s Cannes jury, had a brief scare Monday night when she fainted at the Chopard Trophee dinner. Festival director Thierry Fremaux had just introduced actor Francois Civil onstage when Fanning, star of “The Beguiled” and “Maleficent,” collapsed and fell off her chair nearby. Fanning was sitting at a table [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content