You lose her mom, you better take care of her daughter. Abbie Cornish stars in The Girl, where she plays a disgruntled mother who resorts to smuggling Mexicans across the border to make ends meet. Too bad for her, she sucks at just about everything, especially smuggling Mexicans across the border to make ends meet. On her first job, she manages to lose a woman in a river crossing - forcing her to take care of the woman's daughter for a time. At least she speaks español, so that's one positive.
Cornish gives a strong albeit nuanced performance, which is important because the movie rides squarely on her shoulders. I scoffed at her Southern accent in the first scene, but she quickly won me over with her attractive-but-gritty demeanor. She adds depth to her character with every scowl, and presents Ashley's subtle evolution well.
While her performance is good, it isn't amazing. Just like the movie. There is nothing technically wrong with The Girl. Writer/director David Riker keeps things moving at a brisk pace. The story is mildly touching. The sets look great, real and raw.
There just isn't much to latch onto.
At the center of the film lays two key relationships: the rocky connection between Ashley and her father (Will Patton), and the one between Ashley and the girl. The former is interesting but incomplete; Patton essentially disappears in the second half of the movie. The latter isn't as powerful as it needs to be. Young Maritza Santiago Hernandez is fine, but her character is used more as a prop than she is a three dimensional person. The result is that there is little room for an emotional connection between the two, though it's clear that is what was intended - and necessary for The Girl to work.
The Girl is a decently made drama, but it fails to define itself. It's a film that is quickly forgettable, and in turn it's a film no one will ever hear about.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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