In watching this film, It never occurred to me that this was Drew Barrymore's debut as a film director. She comes off as a pro with this film right from the start. The film is a great debut by Barrymore. I wasn't too interested in this film's subject matter, but the fact that Ellen Page was starring in this made me take a second look at it. I thought that the film could be good to ok, but I didn't expect to end up actually going for the ride and enjoying it.
The basic premise of the film is a girl coming of age tale. We have seen this story told a thousand times. Girl is an outcast, Girl finds passion, Parents don't like passion, and then you throw in alot of the cliche's of a coming of age story and you got this movie, but there are enough elements that are present in the picture that definitely make this one different. The subject matter of roller derbying is one that I thought was going to be a big leap of faith on the part of Drew Barrymore making this an interesting sport and she nails it. About 10 minutes into the movie, I saw that Roller Derbying really lent itself to being a very visual and an intense experience on film. It was awesome to see these sequences cut together. On the directing aspect of the film, Drew Barrymore comes out great and she proves she can direct.
The acting of the film is good. I thought that the team had their moments. It was great to see Zoe Bell again in a film. I thought that Kristen Wig was great in her role, and Juilette Lewis was great as the leader of the rival roller team, but definitely the stand-out of this film is Ellen Page. Ellen Page is what makes this film so watchable and she carries a lot of baggage on her shoulders throughout the picture. She delivers the wit and charming aspect from the Bliss character. You feel that throughout the film she is unsure of herself, until you see that strength emerge from her and she becomes even tougher and more vulnerable emotionally. Ellen Page is perfectly cast in this role. It isn't her playing a hippster on the par of Juno, but she is still a hippster, but more likable.
The technical aspects of this film from the editing and the pacing all work great. The film delivers that brutal and competitive nature of the skating arena and it works as a cinematic experience.
The one flaw to the film is that the script is very predictable. Of course there are some moments that are thrown in for good measure, but the film follows a lot of the cliche' moments from most coming of age stories about girls. By the time you get to the third act, you can predict most of the major beats and character choices. It's a complaint that drags the film and makes it lose a little bit of steam in the third act, but the last act of the film picks it up again and brings back some of the heart of the first two acts.
Overall, this film is a great coming of age tale and finding your passion. It's predictable: Yes. It is bad? Not by a stretch! I enjoyed this film quite a lot. Drew Barrymore definitely brings a heart to this film as the director as she shines both off camera and in front of the camera. Ellen Page gives a strong performance and her arc is fun to watch! I'd say this is a FULL-PRICE! Go check this out! A pleasant surprise and quite a touching film!
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