Girls Against Boys [Blu-Ray] Austin Chick

Girls Against Boys [Blu-Ray] Austin Chick
7
For viewers unable, or unwilling, to look beneath the surface, Austin Chick's revenge flick will likely prove a perplexing experience. However, if you're fond of having to engage your gray matter to interpret subverted tropes, Girls Against Boys is a deeply layered and studiously constructed examination of gender roles and how coping mechanisms for the victimized and marginalized can manifest. With even a modicum of perspicacity, it should be abundantly clear that there's more going on here than a less graphic re-tread of French rape vengeance picture Baise Moi. Chick's first film since 2008's August is loaded with subtleties, but its first layer of subtext is by no means hidden. In fact, after introducing Lu (Nicole LaLiberte) in a scene where the femme fatale uses her sexuality to seize power from a male authority figure, the academic intentions of this coolly calculated play on perspective are laid bare. In a lecture our protagonist, Shae (Danielle Panabaker), is attending for a Woman's Studies course, her professor directly addresses the usage and purpose of the juxtaposition of innocence, sexuality and violence in the world of male-dominated pop culture, where the fairer sex is often presented as subservient, disposable playthings. The events that follow are designed to encourage multiple viewings, but even taken at face value, Girls Against Boys is by no means the simple glorification of misandry it's been accused of being by shallow, short-sighted critics. To provide some context, Shae is a young college girl blowing off steam with new friend Lu after being deceived and dumped by an older man. They end up partying with a group of guys who don't come across as especially threatening, but clearly feel entitled to some follow-through on the obviously depressed girl's attention-seeking flirtations. One of them offers to walk Shae home and subsequently rapes her when she expresses no interest in facilitating his craving for sexual conquest. After being given the run-around by the police due to a lack of information, Shae acquiesces to Lu's more hands-on approach of exacting justice and taking control of the situation. Equal parts empowered and sickened by Lu's cavalier attitude towards wrathful vengeance, Shae tentatively joins in the descent into misanthropic retribution with the chilly detachment of someone having an out-of-body experience. Austin Chick films their vicious odyssey like a kind of fever dream, using long, languid takes, fluid shifts in perspective and an analog synthesizer score by Nathan Larson that has the warm/cool contrast of an amniotic sac submerged in an ice bath. When impact dictates need, the film doesn't shy from visceral violence, but it's never gratuitous — the sexual assault tastefully occurs off camera, for example. Girls Against Boys is more concerned with imagery and emotion than linear detail or strict logic, which may add to the frustration of viewers who don't want to engage with the cleverly executed plays on perspective and the underlying theme that misinterpretations lead to acts of anger. Considering how the movie has been received so far, the irony is palpable. Austin and Panabaker largely stick to on-set anecdotes for the commentary track (the sole bonus feature), though they do point out some deeply imbedded hints that greatly enrich repeat viewings. A work this multifaceted and thoughtful is worth leaving open to interpretation. (Anchor Bay)