The Drowning (2016)

The Drowning
Director: Bette Gordon
Writer: Stephen Molton, Frank Pugliese
Based on: Pat Barker‘s novel Border Crossing
Cast: Josh Charles, Avan Jogia, Julia Stiles, Tracie Thoms, John C. McGinley
Seen on: 8.4.2021

Content Note: attempted suicide, stalking, saneism

Plot:
Psychiatrist Tom (Josh Charles) and his wife Lauren (Julia Stiles), an art teacher and artist, have arranged themselves with their different wishes for how their lives should be. So, Tom spends his time in a small town in New Jersey to enjoy the relative quiet and work on his newest book, while Lauren enjoys the art and culture of New York, but goes to New Jersey whenever she can. On one of her visits, the two go for a walk and see a young man (Avian Jogia) just about to commit suicide by drowning himself. Tom is quick to react, throwing himself into the water and pulling him out. The next day, Tom realizes that he knows the man – Danny used to be his patient when he was a child and Tom’s assessment led to him being incarcerated for murder when he was just eleven years old. Now, Danny obviously wants to reconnect with Tom, but Tom doubts his intentions.

The Drowning is a rather drab paint-by-numbers affair that never quite achieves the tension it would need to pull off its plot. Despite the cast, it remains a very average film.

The film poster showing a blurry male shape looking out over the water in dusk at what could be a tower under the moon.
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The Perfection (2018)

The Perfection
Director: Richard Shepard
Writer: Eric C. Charmelo, Richard Shepard, Nicole Snyder
Cast: Allison Williams, Logan Browning, Steven Weber, Alaina Huffman
Seen on: 20.3.2021

Content Note: rape, child abuse, pedophilia, racism, ableism

Plot:
Charlotte (Allison Williams) used to be a promising cellist at the Bachoff academy, the famous music school, until she had to quit as a teenager to take care of her ill mother. Quite a few years later now, her mother has finally passed and Charlotte flies to Shanghai where she meets Lizzie (Logan Browning), the school’s new star, and her old mentors Anton (Steven Weber) and Paloma (Alaina Huffman). There is an instant spark between Charlotte and Lizzie and Lizzie invites Charlotte to come with her on a trip through China the next day. That trip proves to be rather more fateful for them than expected.

The Perfection starts off well enough, but then it starts to fall over itself in attempts to be clever that ultimately derail the entire film.

The film poster showing Charlotte (Allison Williams) playing a cello. There is blood on her face and on the cello.
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Thoroughbreds (2017)

Thoroughbreds
Director: Cory Finley
Writer: Cory Finley
Cast: Olivia Cooke, Anya Taylor-Joy, Anton Yelchin, Paul Sparks, Francie Swift, Kaili Vernoff
Seen on: 14.3.2021

Content Note: ableism/saneism

Plot:
Lily (Anya Taylor-Joy) and Amanda (Olivia Cooke) used to be friends when they were children, but they haven’t seen each other in a long time. Now Amanda’s mother has asked Lily to hang out with her again since Amanda got quite a reputation after an incident with her horse. And Amanda is weird, no doubt about it. But despite initial awkwardness, they bond over their mutual dislike for Lily’s stepdad Mark (Paul Sparks) – which leads to a plan that could solve their problem.

Thoroughbreds has excellent performances and a good sense of style, but also an ending that ruined the film for me, unfortunately.

The film poster showing Lily (Anya Taylor-Joy) and Amanda (Olivia Cooke) sitting as far away from each other as possible on a white couch in a white room wearing white and gray.
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Greta (2018)

Greta
Director: Neil Jordan
Writer: Ray Wright, Neil Jordan
Cast: Isabelle Huppert, Chloë Grace Moretz, Maika Monroe, Colm Feore, Zawe Ashton, Thaddeus Daniels, Raven Dauda, Stephen Rea
Seen on: 17.5.2019

Content Note: stalking

Plot:
When Frances (Chloë Grace Moretz) finds a handbag in the subway station, she makes sure to return it to its owner, widow Greta (Isabelle Huppert). Greta, a retired piano teacher, seems lonely and the kind-hearted Frances resolves to spend some time with her. But soon things start to become a little weird. There seems to be more to Greta than Frances suspected at first.

Greta has unfortunately more holes than plot and for a film that tries so hard to lure people on the wrong path, that is more than unfortunate. It breaks the film.

the film poster showing a purse dangling on a fish hook.
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Teenage Cocktail (2016)

Teenage Cocktail
Director: John Carchietta
Writer: John Carchietta, Sage Bannick, Chris Sivertson
Cast: Nichole Sakura, Fabianne Therese, Pat Healy, Michelle Borth, Joshua Leonard, AJ Bowen, Zak Henri, Lou Wegner
Seen on: 11.5.2019

Plot:
Annie (Nichole Sakura) just moved to a new town and feels insecure. When she meets Jules (Fabianne Therese) in school, she is drawn to her strength and free spirit and the two girls quickly become friends and even fall in love. They dream of leaving their small town behind and starting a new life in New York. But those dreams need cash, and the easiest way to get cash for two young, pretty girls is to do some “modeling” online. That soon turns to more.

Teenage Cocktail is yet another film about two women falling in love that gets ruined by the male gaze. It’s a pity.

The film poster showing Annie (Nichole Sakura) and Jules (Fabianne Therese) in cat masks and not a lot of clothes looking at a notebook.
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