Amy (Sara West) is a teenager, a “bad girl” who’s just returned home after some shadowy shenanigans to her adoptive parents who are willing to give her “one last chance.” They’re pretty sure she’s going to hate the new home they’ve bought in rural Australia and they’re right; she’s out the door and doing a runner almost immediately. But then she meets a local girl named Chloe (Samara Weaving) who makes life a little more bearable, and her parents think this friendship is a positive thing.
They’re all wrong on all counts. Chloe isn’t what she seems, and when Amy discovers her secrets she ends up not only fighting for her own life, but to keep intact the very same family that she’s, up until now, been eschewing. Seems like Chloe is the titular bad girl after all! Oh, teenage irony.
Fin Edquist writes and directs this twisty-turny thriller. There isn’t a lot to distinguish Bad Girl from other oeuvres in the genre but the performances from the two young lead actresses, Sara West and Samara Weaving, are pretty extraordinary. The film’s first half hour is a relationship drama made strong by their chemistry. They bond over their shared yearning for family, for identity.
The film’s visual approach is informed largely by the environment. Whether outside or in, the sky looms large, and often forbidding. The atmosphere of the film responds accordingly. A real sense of dread is cultivated in quieter moments, making the splashes of violence really pop against the austere background. Bad Girl is a genre film that just may surprise you.
Sunday, May 28, 9:30 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox
Tickets can be purchased at the Inside Out website.