Despite All The White Powder, 'White Girl' Is As Bland As White Bread

By James Jay Edwards
Released: September 16, 2016
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Summer, New York City. A college girl falls hard for a guy she just met. After a night of partying goes wrong, she goes to wild extremes to get him back.

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Film Review
White Girl is about a young college student named Leah (McFarland, USA's Morgan Saylor) who, along with her best friend/roommate Katie (India Menuez from Something in the Air), moves into a new apartment in a seedy part of New York. Looking to score some marijuana in her new neighborhood, Leah boldly approaches a Hispanic man on the street named Blue (Nerve's Brian Marc) and asks if he's selling - and promptly starts dating him. Leah ends up latching onto Blue's world of drugs and thugs, and also ends up with all of the problems that inevitably come with that world.

That's the short synopsis of White Girl. There's more that happens over the course of its 88 minute running time, but at the risk of spoiling it, none of it is very interesting. The whole thing is kind of thin. The film was written and directed by Elizabeth Wood, one of the documentary filmmakers who made Wade in the Water, Children, so that explains the hyper-realistic visual approach. That does not explain the blandness and predictability of the feeble plot.

White Girl, photo courtesy FilmRise/Netflix.

Basically, White Girl is just a bunch of people doing drugs, selling drugs, and having sex. As much fun as that sounds, none of it is portrayed in the glamourous, stylish way in which audiences are accustomed to seeing it onscreen. It's raw, which would be okay, if that fit the context. The problem is, the whole film has very little context. It's all just gratuitous window dressing for a weakly constructed narrative. White Girl is nothing more than an excuse to watch youngsters behaving badly.

Okay, that sounds pretty rough. Truth be told, White Girl is not a complete waste of time. It's got an interesting look and a pounding hip-hop soundtrack. It's engaging in a morbid way, as if the viewer wants to see if the movie is going to successfully pull out of its tailspin. It doesn't, but thankfully, it's a short tailspin.
Elizabeth Wood's script for White Girl seems like it's trying to be a Harmony Korine screenplay. Unfortunately for it, it isn't edgy like Kids, or weird like Gummo, or as much fun as Spring Breakers. It's got all the shocking parts of a Korine script, but without the framework of a story to back it up, it's just offensive. There's nothing organic about it. When the most memorable scene in the movie is a toss-away involving a girl snorting coke off of a guy's penis, you know there's nothing there.

White Girl, photo courtesy FilmRise/Netflix.

Release Date
September 16, 2016
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Casting Director