White Girl movie full length review - Too real
Wow. Saw this on Netflix the other day and it blew my mind, purely because it paints a vividly real portrait of white privilege, U.S. racial stereotypes and adolescent recklessness/naivety.
I'd best describe White Girl as Thirteen meets Kids meets Crazy/Beautiful. It's gritty, confronting and never shies away from giving the viewer a realistic portrayal of how the actions of a careless white girl can cause collateral damage to a community, all the while riding the wave of privilege.
This is Elizabeth Wood's first feature film, which is made even more impressive when I learned it's semi-autobiographical. She doesn't shy away from projecting Leah in a negative light and her character is far from admirable, highlighting Elizabeth's dedication to her craft above all else. (Btw, this is coming from a feminist's perspective ? I'm mentioning this because I've seen White Girl labeled as misogynistic, which I don't think is the case at all.)
Leah is intentionally flawed and difficult to read. For the bulk of the film she's thinking about her own self interests first and foremost, whether it's getting her next hit, fetishizing her hot drug dealer neighbor Blue, recklessly losing $24k in drug money or blurring the lines with her boss at a magazine internship.
That being said, Leah's not completely soulless and does make attempts to redeem herself by helping to get Blue out of jail and on one occasion makes a fleeting attempt to return drugs to Blue's supplier. It's just not enough for you to sympathize for her character. Saylor's portrayal of Leah wasn't anything ground breaking, but at the same time I don't think it needed to be. All she had to highlight was that doll faced white girls can be dangerous too, and she does that effectively.
Brian Marc on the other hand blew me away! Like Wood, he has relatively few film projects under his belt but his performance in White Girl is well up there with the seasoned elite. The stare he gives in his final scene is everything. Brian's performance helps viewers realize he's not playing some wannabe G fu**boy drug dealer, he's playing someone far more vulnerable than that.
What Leah sees as meaningless fun, Blue sees as a form of stability and something serious. Leah has zero responsibilities whereas Blue deals as a means to support his family and to escape his circumstance. She sees sex, while he sees a future. Leah encourages him to be as wild and reckless as she is but fails to foresee how her preferential treatment in the justice system means she comes out unscathed while Blue winds up in jail.
The last five minutes really encapsulate this. Leah might be forever traumatized by the events that took place that summer but she gets to continue on with her life like nothing happened. Meanwhile, Blue will no doubt be reminded every living day as he (likely) serves out a murder sentence that didn't need to happen, had it not been for Leah's careless, selfish actions.
The scariest thing about this movie is its realness.