Two comediennes, while rehearsing for a play, find that they
have an irresistable connection. It's a simple idea, based on
the real life experiences of the actors involved, which despite
a few flaws is pulled off in an engaging, sweet and suprisingly
The concept of the film is this: what do you do if you're already
in a committed relationship when you meet the love of your life?
Also, after being disappointed over and over again, is it possible
to put aside your cynicism about relationships to jump at the
chance of real love? Two very interesting questions, and ones
which many of us can relate to.
It is obvious from the outset that Girl Play
is a film based on a stage play. The vast majority of the film
takes place on a sparse stage with the protagonists, Robin and
Lacie, standing side by side narrating their stories to the camera.
Robin is the woman in the six-year relationship with her lover,
Audrey, and Lacie is the one with the fear of commitment. During
these scenes the proscenium arch is strictly preserved and it
feels very much like you're sitting in a theatre rather than a
cinema. This is dialogue-driven filmmaking at its most extreme.
From time to time as the characters tell their stories the action
shifts away to re-enact the narrated events. It is in these scenes
the film really shines. The humour of the piece comes not from
cleverly written dialogue (though the dialogue is quite clever),
it comes from the familiarity and empathy we feel for the characters
as their experiences unfold. We relate to embarrassing sexual
experiences, explaining your actions to a jealous lover, coming
out to parents who react in unexpected ways, giving a hug to a
friend and realising friendship has crossed the line into sexual
tension. All these events are everyday things that are milked
here for comedy gold.
Perhaps the weakest moments of the film are when the story veers
away from the relationship between the two women and introduces
extraneous characters. I laughed at the coming-out sequence and
thought it was a nice way of explaining where Robin was coming
from, but it could have been sacrificed in favour of more sequences
showing the women and their interactions. If I have a beef with
the film it is that it didn't more thoroughly explore the inner
workings of the protagonists' growing attraction to each other.
Alternatively, more time could have been spent examining some
of the good moments of Robin and Audrey's relationship and why
it was so difficult for Robin to leave. All we saw were the reasons
their relationship was falling apart so it was difficult to get
a sense of what the two women were like when they were in love.
Of the two storylines I think I enjoyed Lacie's story the most.
The demise of her previous relationship and her harrowing-yet-humorous
discovery that she almost dreaded having sex with her girlfriend
resonated strongly with me. At times I was trying to sort out
whether I was enjoying the film because it was genuinely well
made or because of my personal affinity with the subject matter.
I can't help thinking, was I tricked into liking this movie so
I don't think talking heads is a film technique that will catch
on. While the approach worked for this film, it wasn't so much
a narrative film as a docudrama of lives and relationships. It
felt a little like the television show Once
and Again, only instead of an outsider asking revealing
questions in interview style the characters are simply telling
their stories for whoever will listen. Picture a group of lesbians
sitting around a campfire to talk about love, relationships, commitment
and coming out. What stories might they tell? I think it would
be a little like this.
Perhaps more of a screenwriting effort was required to truly
translate the film for the screen, but it seems Harmon and Greenspan
wanted to capture the play pretty much as-is, with only minor
meddling to take advantage of the film format. Whatever the reason,
their approach did produce an emotional response and provoke some
genuine belly laughs, so I would say overall this was a mission
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