"Kevin Bacon brings a lightness in his brief scenes, but largely it’s tough going, as the film is so earnest in its insistence that you must understand that everyone is in pain"
One of the highly anticipated visits at the festival this year was from Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick, a Hollywood power couple who were at the festival to promote Sedgwick’s directorial debut, Story of a Girl. The end result is somewhat strange: a television movie that deals with difficult teenage issues with a heavy hand and uneven tone.
The film stars Ryann Shane as Deanna, a high school student who is dealing with the trauma of a compromising video of herself being shared among classmates. The video has had a significant impact on her father Ray (Jon Tenney), who has internalised that anger into a permanent burning resentment against his family. In a bid to earn her independence and move out, Deanna gets a job at a local pizza restaurant run by Michael (Kevin Bacon).
There’s undoubtedly a sincere passion behind this film in the form of Sedgwick. She’s spoken of her drive to tell a teenage girl’s story at a tumultuous age, and rather than just paint Deanna as a clear victim, the film tries to include those moral grey areas that can come to the foreground in these traumatic experiences. Additionally, there’s a clear understanding of the rifts and scars that the digital age can cause.
However, it’s quite literally a Lifetime movie (premiering July 23rd!), and even on the big cinematic expanse, doesn’t break out of its small screen home. The symptoms of an old fashioned television film are there, with the emphasis being on story and dramatic plot points, whilst missing out on significant character development or detailed settings. Kevin Bacon brings a lightness in his brief scenes, but largely it’s tough going, as the film is so earnest in its insistence that you must understand that everyone is in pain. By the end, it’s like going through the wringer.
Story of a Girl has been made with good intentions, and that shows. The balance between getting across a message about modern society has to be balanced with a strong setting and fully realised characters however, and it’s in this that the film doesn’t quite succeed.