Part of the Edinburgh International Film Festival
13-year-old Deanna Lambert’s life falls apart when a compromising video of herself and her erstwhile boyfriend goes viral among her school cohorts. Three years on, Deanna is still struggling to overcome the can of worms thrown up by the sextape, including an aggressively overbearing father, a stereotypically sassy gaggle of mean girls and a desperate need to escape the town which she feels is suffocating her.
A thoroughly Bacon family affair, Story of a Girl is directed by Kyra Sedgwick (wife of Kevin) and stars Sosie Bacon (daughter of Kevin) and Kevin himself (Kevin of Kevin) in a delightful cameo. Not always known for his versatile acting chops, Kevin is memorably endearing here as the amiable, unrufflable boss who takes Deanna under his wing as a waitress in his pizza restaurant.
However, it’s emerging starlet Ryann Shane who is deserving of the lion’s share of plaudits for her portrayal of the angst-ridden Deanna. Her sense of alienation and confusion is something that surely most of us can identify with from our adolescent past (or present), but the focus on the power of social media and the mounting challenges that face today’s youth gives this teen flick an extra edge. It’s a topic worthy of exploration, and kudos should go to all three of the Bacons and Shane for their portrayal of Deanna’s predicament.
Nonetheless, that’s not to say that this is a warts-n-all exposé, either. Though it might be armed with new ammunition, Story of a Girl is still very much aimed at the teenage audience and the well-trodden grounds of domestic strife it covers reflect that. At times, it feels like the viewer has become unwillingly bogged down in an inextricably-tangled mess of familial fall-out; it’s an exhausting business just watching the dirty laundry unfold, never mind airing it yourself.
As a result, the film is a useful and largely entertaining exercise in an underexplored but increasingly relevant subject. Though the characters might not be the most charismatic for much its airtime, they do ring true as believable human beings. Furthermore, their dilemmas might seem a little too mundane to worth bothering about but the reality is that such dilemmas dominate the whole consciousness of a multitude of teenagers (and many of their elders, for that matter) and for that, it’s well worthy of a watch.