‘The Girl in the Book’ – Film Review

I can’t believe this film has a 92% on Rotten Tomatoes. Feel free to disagree but I felt this film was a classic example of “good premise” and sincere intentions but incredibly lackluster execution.

The Plot

The Girl in the Book is a flashback narrative that focuses on a book editor assistant named Alice and how a recent client brings up memories of Alice’s haunted past. I feel that most effective flashback narratives play with dramatic irony foreshadowing but the outcome of the film is unapologetically predictable. I mean in the first 15 minutes you have a dad who’s overtly a jerk and a buffon and his friend who starts acting flirty to a 14 year old girl, you tell me where this is going.

If that’s not already un-amusingly bland and played out the film also fills the runtime with a bunch of tropes and cliches. You have the plot of Big Fat Liar happening, you have that dumb we’re not in love anymore and I have to put together a dumb romantic gesture to win you back in the most forced rendition of it, and then finally you have that having a confrontation with your abuser… I mean person from your hurtful past. I’m just empty, there’s nothing there I want to say that they wanted to go with something more authentic than cathartic or entertaining but with all the artificial plot points and disengaging the characters who despite being acted well, just don’t make you care about what’s going on.

Production

I’m surprised with the decent credentials of the crew that the film looks so bland. The film has such a dull palette that I honestly considered that it might not have been color graded. In looking further it appears that the film was a Kickstarter funded film that does show Dailies that promise to be later color graded.

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daily featured on the kickstarter
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still captured from the film

I’m still skeptical, I want to conspire that the difference comes from adjusted white balance and temperature in the camera but it seems that minimal color grading did happen. Still the image in both the daily and final film both look muddy. My next suspected grip is that the lighting design is to blame for the lacking dynamic imagery. I feel that they wanted a more natural look but its always painfully obvious when they are lighting certain scenes and it just doesn’t look right.

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this scene looked like this 5 seconds ago.

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I don’t know the framing of shots just felt amateur, it’s far from incompetent but I felt it had the visual style of regular Cheerios.

 

Kickstarter

to be fair this movie was kickstarted and was a directorial debut so it was bound to be a little rough around the edges. I do appreciate how enticing the kickstarter was to those interested in film as it did feature access to behind the scenes action as well as fans of the book with a coffee table audition included in rewards. It appears that they had a little difficulty getting all the rewards distributed as it seems a lot of backers got restless waiting for the rewards to roll out. I understand where the producers were coming from in that there’s bound to be setbacks in the filmmaking effort but also understand the backers in that if it says expected delivery of your autographed coffee table book that I spent over $100 for is said to be October 2013 and I hear the books have been signed February 12 2016 I would have maybe gotten a little mad too. I’m a little iffy on the full details but it also seems that rewards promised advanced screenings for backers but was put into festivals first and those with digital copies didn’t receive their digital copies prior to the film being made public and the producers were sort of responding with crickets until progress was being made.

Final Thoughts

forgettable. It’s generic and doesn’t add anything to the table in terms of the subject matter it discusses. Credit it does pre-date the MeToo movement but while not damaging, it doesn’t add to the narrative or engage its audience in any meaningful way. I felt unfulfilled by the end of it but there’s not a lack of effort behind it so maybe you’ll appreciate what is there more than I did. The Girl in the Book narrowly avoids being another kickstarter horror story but is not really something to recommend.

 

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