At 17, high-school junior Shirley Lyner is thinking about college and running a babysitting service that provides teen call girls to the dads of young children. In a long flashback, we see what brought her from being a babysitter to organizing and running the service. It starts with Michael, the father of children she baby-sits. A cup of coffee on the way home from his house, a night visit to a train yard, and one thing leads to another. Shirley can be ruthless, and tension builds when some of the clients take the girls to a mountain cabin and bring drugs. Then, one of the girls tries to freelance. Can this end well: is it a tragedy in the making? Do we all have secrets? Written by
Shirley Lyner. I'm a junior at Alfred E. Groves high school. This is my babysitting service. The answer is no: mom doesn't drink, dad didn't hit me, Uncle Steve never showed me his privates. I don't even have an Uncle Steve. The money is nice, and paid fellatio isn't that much more humiliating than flipping burgers. But that's not why I do it.
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This is what I look for in independent film. Well drawn characters, competent movie making, and a pleasing ambiguity that a big studio wouldn't dare leave in, lest the audience actually decide how to feel for themselves. The guys are great - desperate, sleazy, charming, funny and sad. The girls are also portrayed fairly - scheming, sweet, sexy and innocent. Leguizamo's character is believable to me as an aging playa, chafing against middle age and lusting for Waterson's Shirley. And Shirley is the best on-screen pimp in recent memory. To be fair: things unfold a little quickly, people accept their situations a little easier than they might in real life, but this is a pretty short movie, and throwing in more angst would be overkill and overlong on screen. No one comes away clean, and no one comes away as the absolute bad guy. Moral absolutes would kill this film, and I'm glad it got made the way it did.
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