Chad Faust’s Girl

What if you returned to your hometown after decades away with plans on killing an abusive parent, only to find out that someone had already beaten you to the punch? Problem solved, right? Not quite, at least for troubled, angry teen Bella Thorne in Chad Faust’s Girl, a bleak modern western about a no-horse town and the Girl who blusters into it looking for answers and revenge. She’s come for her estranged daddy, who was volcanically abusive to her and her mother years before, and she intends to settle the score with him, for good. When she finds that someone has already killed him, instead of calling it a day and packing off home, she noses around the derelict backwater enclaves that were no doubt once a half prosperous township, and finds more trouble than she bargained for. Mickey Rourke has a good sized, scenery chewing role here as the dodgy county sheriff who, you guessed it, also moonlights as the local crime lord. I think in these deeply corrupt little slices of rural hell its just a job prerequisite for any sheriff to also be a vice kingpin, I mean taking on the two most powerful jobs on the roster is just killing two birds with one stone, no? Rourke is a leathery, hulking presence these days and makes this guy every inch the evil, murderous son of a bitch you’d hope from the role. Faust is a first time director and does a pretty damn good job considering, despite a few bloated passages of dialogue and choppy editing that could have used a bit of tough love. He also takes on one of the acting roles which he does with eccentricity and freakish exuberance. This is the first time I’ve seen Bella Thorne in anything and hadn’t even heard of her before this film, she’s pretty limited in terms of emotional range and line delivery and could use some work on her acting, but she’s got good presence, brooding in a faded hoodie and glaring out from behind a windswept mane of hair. Plus her weapon of choice is a hatchet, which she wields with startling lethality. The film’s strongest quality is atmosphere, and tons of it. IMDb doesn’t list any filming locations yet but wherever it is, it’s a place the rest of the world forgot. Boarded up buildings along the main drag, muttering drunks lining the lonely streets and pickling in a shabby dive run by an eternally pessimistic barkeep (Glenn Gould) and grey, washed out inland wilderness. It might be the most depressing place on the continent, but serves as quite the backdrop for this gnarly little tale to run its course. There’s also a wonderful, haunting original score by Dylan Baldassero that combines eerie lyrics and strange, unconventional instrumentals to great effect, as well as some very well orchestrated plot twists that spice up the narrative. Solid film.

-Nate Hill

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