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Girlfight (2000)
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Review Date: September 13, 2000
Director: Karyn Kusama
Writer: Karyn Kusama
Producers: Sarah Green, Martha Griffin, Maggie Renzi
Actors:
Michelle Rodriguez as Diana
Santiago Douglas Adrian
Jaime Tirelli as Hector
Paul Calderon as Sandro
Plot:
An aggressive young girl without much hope in her future enrolls herself into a local boxing club without her father's knowledge. She steals some money from him to take the courses and improves her techniques as time goes by. Eventually, she meets a young boy interested in the sport and in her, and gets the opportunity to participate in some amateur fights versus boys.
Critique:
An okay film weighed down in cliches but more than made up for by its very real characters and the charismatic performance turned in by its star, Michelle Rodriguez. In fact, it was Rodriguez's early scenes that drew me into this film right away and kept me going for quite some time. Unfortunately, the film itself eventually dragged a little for me, with a longer than needed runtime and an emotional entanglement which wasn't as interesting to me as the "fight" being put forth by the lead character. And despite its independent and grungy look, which actually made the film more believable and appealing, I was distracted by several over-directed scenes, in which there seemed to be too much emphasis placed on the camera and its telling of the story. What's the old saying? "If you notice the directing, than the director is not doing a good job?" Well, in this case, the film, and the directing for that matter, certainly weren't bad, but the film as a whole just didn't pull me into its mission as I hoped it would early on. The characters were all very real, as were the situations and people surrounding them, and the whole premise of a girl going through the training and striving towards that unreachable goal was cool, but not as intense as I expected.

I guess my biggest problem with the film would have to be its lack of tightness. If the film would have been snipped a little here and there, tucked and mucked, I think it would have made more of an impact. As it stands, the film certainly does have its qualities, with the top of that list belonging to the powerful performance set forth by Michelle Rodriguez, whose gaze alone scared the crap out of me. You go, girl! Hopefully, somebody somewhere will give her an award for an exemplary performance and undeniable screen presence. The rest of the cast was also good, especially Jaime Tirelli as the trainer, believable throughout, and Paul Calderon as the washed-up dad, whose interesting dynamic with his daughter didn't really conclude with the end of the picture. In fact, if you don't like "open-ended" finishes, you might want to pass on this one.

The film does not have a clean-cut ending, but under the circumstances, I personally didn't mind. All in all, the film should definitely appeal to the equal opportunist in all of us, and I for one can certainly do with more movies with females in the lead, especially after this sad sack of a movie year! There is also a lot of ROCKY appeal to this film, the down-and-out loser going for the gold with everyone against her but the audience. So if you're feeling down on yourself, not recognizing any optimism in your own future...see this film and maybe Diana's strong will to succeed will rub off on you! Either way, you will definitely see a film filled with real characters living real life situations NOT topped off by rose petals :)
(c) 2015 Berge Garabedian
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