The world is closing in on Greta Driscoll. On the cusp of turning fifteen she can't bear to leave her childhood, it contains all the things that give her comfort in this incomprehensible new world. She floats in a bubble of loserdom with her only friend Elliott, until her parents throw her a surprise 15th birthday party and she's flung into a parallel place; a world that's weirdly erotic, a little bit violent and thoroughly ludicrous - only there can she find herself. Based on the critically acclaimed production by Windmill Theatre, GIRL ASLEEP is a journey into the absurd, scary and beautiful heart of the teenage mind.
'Girl Asleep' is a delightful coming of age dramedy that uses the medium of film in a creative and entertaining way. Less is more (or it should be in features, where directors are too often indulged) and the running time here is succinct; whilst exploring its themes and concerns. Recreating an era on film is never easy, especially on a budget, but Rosemary Myers does a great job as she and the screenwriter (and supporting actor) Matthew Whittet, adapt his stage play and bring some visceral and visual elements to the tale.
The protagonist here is a 14 year old played with smart enthusiasm and sturdiness by Bethany Whitmore (already a seasoned actor at aged 16!). Her Greta undergoes some quick rite of passage as the narrative propels her towards her next birthday and a reluctant participant in her own celebrations. With quirky parents, an apathetic older sister, and a geekily winning best pal played to perfection by Harrison Feldman, Greta has a new school and peer pressure to navigate as well as the looming birthday.
There is much to enjoy about 'Girl Asleep' with its retro first half; resplendent with late 70's furnishings, music, costumes and an altogether more innocent time. The film's shift in tone and style is not unexpected, with some early metaphysical and fantasy components flagging its intentions, but for some this may prove too wayward. There is ultimately a sweetness to this movie, without being saccharine or predictable. With a cast largely of teenagers and lesser known actors, the director wrangles the elements with a deft hand but not intrusively; allowing Matthew Whittet's story to be explored and Greta's turbulent coming of age to be presented in a distinctive style. I hope this movie finds its audience. This is an Australian film to rally for!
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