Netflix Recommendation: “Girl Asleep” Is A Piece Of Delightful Cinema
Growing up is never easy. Raging hormones, a changing body, and entering high school at the low end of the totem pole are issues every teen deals with, and they have provided the central story for a number of good movies. In director Rosemary Myers‘ debut feature film, she takes the tried and true “Coming of age” formula, and adds a blend of dry humor and eye-popping fantasy to give a the story of Greta (Bethany Whitmore) a fresh twist.
We meet Great on her first day at her new high school, and right away we can see that she has anxiety about the idea of socially interacting with those around her. Fortunately it doesn’t take long before fellow social outcast Elliott (Harrison Feldman) offers his friendship and unlimited access to his free time. Elliott’s companionship grows increasingly important to Greta, as she deals with mean girls at school, her older sister (Imogen Archer) and her bad boy boyfriend (Eamon Farren), and worst of all her parents forcing her to have a 15th birthday party with all of her classmates.
Just as she expected, the party is a humiliating disaster. That traumatic experience and the horrors of being a teenage girl force Greta to retreat into a fantasy world full of odd and sometimes scary creatures. It is in this world where Greta can find answers to her questions about how to navigate through becoming an adult.
Set in the orange shag-carpeted 70s, every frame pops with color. With its deadpan dialogue and focus on cinematographic symmetry, “Girl Asleep” will undoubtedly draw comparison to the films of Wes Anderson and Richard Ayoade. Myers and writer Matthew Whittet (who also plays multiple roles in the film) set their film apart, though, with the use of a darker element of fantasy ala “Pan’s Labyrinth”. Also omitting any real antagonist and instead manifestations of the dread of entering the early stages adulthood, and the included responsibilities, was a wonderful choice by the creative duo.
A lot is asked of Bethany Whitmore, and she carries a considerable amount of the film’s weight with grace and poise. Not given a ton of dialogue, she instead conveys all of Greta’s emotion through her eyes and facial expressions. It is really something to see, and I am sure this performance will earn her a lot of well-deserved attention. She is also aided by solid performances by all of the supporting cast (especially Harrison Feldman who plays the geeky, love-struck friend perfectly), and some beautiful cinematography by Andrew Commis.
“Girl Asleep” is a unique, strange, delightful little film, that uses every second of its 77 minute run time. It is equally touching and funny, and has a whimsical heart at it’s center. It is also now on Netflix streaming, so you should all go watch it!