‘Girls Against Boys’ subtly presents complex themes

From director Austin Chick (“XX/XY”) comes “Girls Against Boys,” a film starring Danielle Panabaker as Shae, a girl whose life is changed forever upon meeting Lu (Nicole LaLiberte). Looking for some fun, Lu takes Shae around to some warehouse parties, where they go home with a few guys. Things take a turn for the worse when one of the guys, Simon (Michael Stahl-David), forces himself on Shae under the pretense of taking her home safely. When the police prove unhelpful, Shae and Lu take justice into their own hands, and their friendship becomes something dangerous and disturbing.

Although the film may sound like nothing more than a simple story of revenge, “Girls” is much more than that. The film makes a conscious effort to deal with the objectification of women, a theme subtly featured in every man’s interaction with Shae and Lu.

The two lead actresses are the film’s greatest strength. Panabaker is particularly impressive as a naive college girl, while LaLiberte is incredibly convincing as a dangerous and obsessive woman. Rather than overplaying the role of a murderer, LaLiberte makes Lu appear devoid of human feeling. Lu’s blank stares combined with her ability to kill a person without a thought make her actions all the more haunting.

“Girls” also experiments with many different angles and shots. The dance scenes in the clubs are among the most interesting in the film. The action and noise are turned down and all the audience can hear is Shae’s breathing, which, when combined with the intense focus on her face, makes it seem as though the audience is witnessing a transformation.

The scene of Shae’s attack is also artfully constructed. Rather than focusing on the violence of the crime, the camera remains focused on the keys dangling from her door while she and Simon are out of focus on the side of the screen. The audience can still hear her struggles, and the sound of pain proves more effective than actually showing the act.

“Girls Against Boys” is an interesting take on the idea of women seeking revenge, and it even questions the very idea of justice. The film asks the question of who is truly to blame for the murders — is it Shae, or is it the objectification in our society? Viewers interested in dark humor, the errors of society and seeing women take things into their own hands will enjoy what Chick’s newest film has to offer.

Katherine Tejada is a contributing writer. Email her at film@nyunews.com.

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Comments

2 Responses to “‘Girls Against Boys’ subtly presents complex themes”

  1. David Haverstock on January 31st, 2013 4:07 pm

    The only things that go better together than justice and revenge are girls and boys. I want to know who’s objectifying whom. I’m intrigued.

    [Reply]

  2. Laszlo on January 31st, 2013 6:35 pm

    Justice has great value and can be served with great punitive consequences.

    [Reply]

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