×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Film Review: ‘Princess Cyd’

A teenage girl explores her sexuality and copes with a past tragedy while staying with her aunt in this precious, threadbare indie.

Director:
Stephen Cone
With:
Rebecca Spence, Jessie Pinnick, Malic White, James Vincent Meredith, Tyler Ross, Matthew Quattrocki.

Official Site: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt6053440/

Slow-motion is employed incessantly throughout “Princess Cyd,” which is apt given the inertia of Stephen Cone’s artificial indie. For his follow-up to 2015’s “Henry Gamble’s Birthday Party,” the writer-director paints a sketchy portrait of a teenage girl’s coming-of-age while spending a few weeks with her famous aunt, an acclaimed author. Caring more about what its characters represent — and its empathetic representation of them — than about crafting a fully formed drama concerning flesh-and-blood people, Cone’s film has little more than its heart in the right place. Expect scant theatrical traction after the film’s debut at this year’s BAMcinemaFest.

Nine years after an obliquely referenced family tragedy, and following more recent, unspecified turmoil with her father, 16-year-old Cyd (Jessie Pinnick) is sent to Chicago to stay with her aunt Miranda (Rebecca Spence), a well-known novelist. It’s a conceit that’s hastily established by Cone, who focuses more squarely on the bond that forms between the two women once they’re together. However, after Miranda gives an introductory public speech in which she raises some hazy questions about spirituality, as well as initial conversations between the two during which Cyd keeps rudely interrupting her elder, they both come across as such wooden, off-putting types that their rapport rings false.

While taking a morning jog that Cone shoots in (what else?) slow motion, Cyd gets lost (because, you see, she’s figuratively lost inside). She soon winds up at a coffee shop, where she shares unsubtly charged glances with a mohawked female barista. A second visit full of even broader sighs and bigger relief-filled smiles reveals the barista to be named Katie (Malic White). They soon strike up a budding romance staged as a series of contrivances, the most ridiculous being an arm-in-arm dance they’re asked to perform for a film crew that happens to spy them from across the street, wrongly assuming that they’re a boy and girl.

Back at the house, Cyd engages Miranda about her sexless existence, cajoles her into sunbathing and compels her to consider a more-than-friends relationship with literary pal Anthony (James Vincent Meredith). In these sequences, Cone raises issues about fulfillment, spirituality and societal expectations, but in ways that at once feel forced and tossed off, as if he’s eager to name-check some current topics on his mind but hasn’t figured out a way to properly dramatize them. As such, many of these threads unravel almost as soon as they’re introduced, all so the director might spend more time indulging in clunky and often clichéd scenarios. Those include: Cyd questioning a lesbian couple attending a Miranda shindig about their journey from hetero to same-sex marriage; having a tryst with a hunky local gardener; and rescuing Katie from a creepy housemate, a scene not only haphazardly interjected into the action, but which pulls its punches, lest the film have to actually deal with the ramifications of abuse.

Regardless of the past trauma that both protagonists repeatedly mention, there’s no sense that either Cyd or Miranda have lived lives prior to the start of the film; instead, they come across as merely threadbare constructs. Cone’s depiction of Cyd and Katie’s blossoming amour, as well as their initial sexual experience together, is compassionate, but it often seems as if the director is trying too hard to demonstrate his own (admirable) open-mindedness — an impression acutely felt in his awkward lingering on hands caressing naked bodies, and kisses and pillow talk marked by too-loud-for-anyone’s-good mouth noises.

Pinnick and Spence’s lead performances are earnest and creaky, while the movie’s aesthetics — from a pushy score filled with flutes, guitars, pop singers and hip-hop, to lyrical visuals that call excessive attention to themselves — do little to quell the material’s overarching phoniness. As with a sequence in which Cyd puts her hand around someone’s throat, only to refrain from causing any real harm, “Princess Cyd” proves a bloodless put-on.

Film Review: 'Princess Cyd'

Reviewed online, Stamford, Conn., June 16, 2017. Running time: 96 MIN.

Production: A Sunroom Pictures presentation. Producers: Grace Hahn, Madison Ginsberg, Stephen Cone. Executive producers: Bryan Hart, Scott Hughes, Thomas Patrick Lane. Co-producers: Ed Batchelor, Roderick Branch, Aaron Brost, Rick Cohn, Kelly Doss, Brian Sanderson, Brian Satherlie, Dave Shapiro, Jan Lipov, Michael Heath, Mona Heath, Abigniew Wiktor Malecki.

Crew: Director, writer: Stephen Cone. Camera (color, widescreen, HD): Zoe White. Editor: Christopher Gotschall. Music: Heather McIntosh.

With: Rebecca Spence, Jessie Pinnick, Malic White, James Vincent Meredith, Tyler Ross, Matthew Quattrocki.

More Film

  • Nona

    Film Review: 'Nona'

    Twenty years and 12 features down the line, it’s still hard to peg the directorial sensibility of Michael Polish, with or without the presence of brother Mark as frequent co-writer and actor. His output has been all over the place, from early Lynchian quirkfests to the very middle-of-the-road inspirational dramedy “The Astronaut Farmer,” not to [...]

  • Pawel Pawlikowski "Cold War"

    Pawel Pawlikowski's 'Cold War' Wins for Best Film, Director at European Film Awards

    “Cold War,” Pawel Pawlikowski’s black-and-white romance set in the 1950s, scooped the prizes for best film, director and screenplay at the 31st edition of the European Film Awards on Saturday. “Cold War” star Joanna Kulig also won the award for best actress. Marcello Fonte, the star of Matteo Garrone’s “Dogman,” won for best actor. More Reviews [...]

  • The Favourite Bohemian Rapsody Star is

    The Best Movie Scenes of 2018

    When we think back on a movie that transported us, we often focus on a great scene — or maybe the greatest scene — in it. It’s natural. Those scenes are more than just defining. They can be the moment that lifts a movie into the stratosphere, that takes it to the higher reaches of [...]

  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

    Box Office: 'Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse' Soars Toward $35-40 Million Debut

    “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” is swinging into theaters on a high note. Sony-Marvel’s latest output is launching to $42 million from 3,813 North American locations in its debut, though other more conservative estimates place that number at $35.5 million. The animated superhero story picked up $12.6 million on Friday, easily leading the pack for the weekend. [...]

  • Ventana Sur : Cinema226 Closes Four

    Cinema226 Announces Four Intl. Co-Productions, Hints at More (EXCLUSIVE)

    Mexico’s Cinema226, run by Marco Antonio Salgado and Sam Guillén, is driving into a raft of Mexico, Argentina and Spain co-productions, playing off the current vibrancy of Mexican film production funding and distribution outlets. Among the projects are titles which have been standouts at Ventana Sur’s Blood Window, the next film by Mexico-based Argentine filmmaker [...]

  • Ventana Sur Debates Gender Parity in

    Ventana Sur Debates Gender’s 50/50 in 2020 for Argentina Film Industry

    BUENOS AIRES — Despite recent gains, namely the equality pledge towards 50/50-2020 signed at the Mar del Plata Film Festival on Nov. 12, producer Magalí Nieva, pointed out that no representative from INCAA was present following the apparent resignation of its vice-president Fernando Juan Lima. “We are left without an interlocutor to discuss gender policies [...]

  • Ventana Sur Rocks with Sales, Mass

    Ventana Sur Rocks with Sales, Mass Attendance, Structural Growth

    BUENOS AIRES — Celebrating its 10th anniversary with a huge hike in attendance to over 4,000 accredited delegates, the 2018 Ventana Sur will go down in history on multiple counts: Sales and pick-ups on movies which combined social comment and entertainment value, increasingly the new foreign-language movie standard; new sections, led by a Proyecta co-production [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content