From Screenwriter and Director Scott R Thompson, Molly’s Girl takes us into the complicated world of political activist and lesbian Mercedes (Emily Schweitz), a driven career woman who is far more successful in her job than in her personal life. Mercedes has become so enveloped by the role that she’s carved for herself (campaigning vehemently for equality) that her partner Gina (Stephanie Brown) has been pushed to the side and has come to the conclusion that Mercedes exists solely to fight the good fight; something that Gina can no longer accept. Gina arranges to meet Mercedes in a bar to call an end to their relationship.
At the same time, elsewhere in town, Molly (Kristina Valada-Viars) is terrifying prospective male partners at a singles night. Molly is a complicated girl. A free spirit and a compulsive liar, she has never quite found her niche in society, instead resorting to telling increasingly outlandish anecdotes about herself in the hope that she will find the attention she craves, yet unknowingly alienating herself in the process.
After her failure at the singles night, she retreats to a bar where she meets the heartbroken, and now drunk, Mercedes. Over the course of the evening a few kind words from Mercedes prompts a kiss from Molly, which leads Mercedes, in her fragile state, to make the foolish choice of taking Molly to bed. Mercedes has no idea what she’s let herself in for; Molly has become attached.
Within a short time Molly’s frequent interventions reduce Mercedes’ life to chaos and so she decides she has to get rid of this frighteningly eccentric girl; that is until she realises that the unbalanced and easily led Molly is actually the daughter of a highly powerful Senator, prompting Mercedes to go about setting the stage for her biggest political victory to date.
On the surface it would be very easy to write off Molly’s Girl, or even the character of Molly herself, as being typical of the vogue for loveable oddballs (such as Napoleon Dynamite, 2004) if it weren’t for the fact that Thompson has injected a surprising amount of depth in to the narrative and characters, which sets it apart from the swathe of its lightweight and meaningless counterparts. The film is both funny and touching, with moments of dialogue, particularly around the exploration of homophobia in America, that spark with intensity. This is the film’s greatest asset, and in its dissection of identities and conflicting values it is at its most successful.
Molly’s Girl is not without its shortcomings, however. Structurally the pace of the film is inconsistent; at times, particularly in the second half, it feels laboured as a result of interesting plot points being punctuated by superfluous interludes intended to revive the comedic sensibility of the first half. You get the impression that this film, like it’s characters, occasionally struggles to find its identity, which isn’t helped by an overreliance on symbolic affectations (such as Molly’s mirror) which feel unnecessarily heavy-handed. This isn’t surprising considering the sheer number of themes the film tackles; sexuality, class, race, individuality, denial, and morality are all topics piled in to the 120 minute run time. Some of these themes are dealt with less successfully than others, for example, you never quite feel that Mercedes fully acknowledges Molly as a person in her own right rather than just a pawn in her political agenda, which somehow undermines the film’s primary message of acceptance.
However these failings are easily overlooked when you consider the vast amount of charm Molly’s Girl brings with it as well as great performances from Schweitz, Valada-Viars, and in particular Ellen Dolan as the calculating and destructive Senator’s wife. Yes, it’s not as sophisticated as it could be, but what it lacks in execution, it makes up for in intention and I would defy anyone to not find something to relate to and engage with in this surprisingly enjoyable film.
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