2015 coming-of-age tale
Plot: Greta tries to adapt to a new school and set of friends while Mom tries to ruin her life with a disco-fueled birthday party. Strange goings-on happen in a forest.
I really enjoyed this movie my brother recommended during its first half when it had a Napoleon Dynamite vibe, and that's despite knowing it would take a turn because of some characters who seemed like they'd seen Heathers a few too many times. Girl Asleep took forever to find some sort of a story, but the extended introduction to the quirky characters and the coming-of-age conflict was fun and made me laugh a few times. Non-sequitur details, spontaneous disco line dancing, and zany dialogue kept things amusing and breezy, like a lighter Yorgos Lanthimos movie or a much stranger Wes Anderson.
There's a jarring shift at around the midway point, and things get more surreal. I'll always welcome surrealism, even at its most childlike, but this just felt a little half-assed to me, like director Rosemary Myers and writer Matthew Whittet--both first-timers in those respective gigs--figured some minimalistic sets, creepy-cute costumes, and some whimsical funk was enough to keep anybody's interest. I'm not sure what any of it added up to, but I suspect it has something to do with being a teenage girl, something that I'm not really able to relate to.
I wish I liked this just a little bit more. I thought Whittet, playing the protagonist's father, was very funny, even though I guessed incorrectly that he was from New Zealand instead of Australia. This had that quirky Kiwi thing going for it though. I also thought Bethany Whitmore was great as Greta. I checked her filmography and noticed she was also the voice of Mary in Mary and Max. And Harrison Feldman, in his first movie role, was good even if his character was a bit one-note. In fact, I think all four of those people show enough here to be excited about where they go from here.
I did really like words that appeared in random places--basketballs, mantles--that sort of served as chapter titles. It, along with a lot of the visual flair, was creative.