Director: Brian Andrew Mendoza
Writer: Gregg Hurwitz, Philip Eisner
Cast: Jason Momoa, Isabela Merced, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Amy Brenneman, Adria Arjona, Justin Bartha, Raza Jaffrey, Lex Scott Davis, Michael Raymond-James
Seen on: 3.9.2021
Ray (Jason Momoa), Amanda (Adria Arjona) and their daughter Rachel (Isabela Merced) used to be extremely happy together until Amanda got very sick and the medication that was her last hope of survival was too expensive, and the generic version pulled before it ever reached the market. After her death, Ray has sworn revenge on the pharmaceutical company that is responsible for the decision. And Rachel can’t help getting dragged into his plans.
Sweet Girl is at its best when it isn’t focused on the action. Unfortunately, it seems to be convinced otherwise. When it should have remained simple, it goes big. But still, it’s worth it for Momoa and the father-daughter-chemistry he has with Merced.
Really, I’m waiting for the RomCom where Jason Momoa gets to be a wonderfully warm goofball (despite being Big and Brown, and I say despite only because Hollywood seems to think those are mutually exclusive categories). He would be so good. We got a taste of his warmth in Aquaman, and we get a taste of it here whenever Ray interacts with Rachel. Although, most of the time things are pretty bleak for them and Momoa nails that bleakness, too.
Merced is equally strong as Rachel and nails her struggle with her father’s decisions, her idolization of and love for him. This relationship really is the core of the film. That’s why the film is at its best when its focused on Ray and Rachel and, to a lesser extent, Amanda. The emotionality and injustice of what they go through is perfectly captured.
Unfortunately the film is a little too pre-occupied with the action that quickly started to feel like a diversion from the characters. I like well-choreographed fight scenes, especically when it’s hand-to-hand combat (and not, like, car chases – if you want to consider them fight scenes – or shoot-outs). They seemed to be alright here, but I can’t really say for sure because the cinematography and editing wouldn’t let me watch them. This made me lose interest in the action parts of the film pretty soon, and made me hope even more for more character work.
The final twist was both a little obvious and very unlikely. Knowing it made me wish once more that the action scenes were shot differently. You could have done a lot with that twist in that regard (not so much in any other and overall I wish they had gone with a different ending). But even if the film isn’t great, watching Momoa in full papa mode and Merced giving it her all still makes it worth it.