GIRL ASLEEP, Film Review, October 2015

Girl Asleep (Photo credit: Shane Reid)

Girl Asleep opens our eyes and hearts to the honest fears of an adolescent teenage girl.

Girl Asleep (Photo credit: Shane Reid)
Girl Asleep (Photo credit: Shane Reid)

Based on the 2014 Adelaide Festival production, Girl Asleep, is a coming of age drama written by Matthew Whittet and Directed by Windmill’s Artistic Director and Director of the Helpmann award winning musical Pinocchio, Rosemary Myers.

With her 15th birthday drawing near, Greta Driscoll (Bethany Whitmore) is struggling to come to terms with the fact that the older she gets, the more she loses her innocence. Not only that, but she must decide whether she wants to keep being friends with the equally awkward Elliot (Harrison Feldman), or follow in the footsteps of the trouble-making girls in her school.

When a 15th birthday party which, despite her protests, is still forced upon her, she seeks out the safe haven of her room, slipping into an imaginary world full of mystical colourful creatures who take her on a journey of self-discovery and acceptance.

Matthew Whittet who not only wrote the script but starred in the original production, reprises his role as Greta’s father and supplies us with the occasional well-timed dad joke. However, it is the ability of his well-written script to draw out the fears from inside a teenage girl, which inspires us to feel and breathe these fears with her. Bethany and Harrison’s portrayals of Greta and Elliot are so organic, that it almost feels like the roles were written for them. Bethany epitomises the stereotypical shy teenager which is complimented by Harrison. Also reprising her role as Greta’s mum, is Amber McMahon who portrays the eccentric overbearing mum exquisitely, with her style reminiscent of her Border Project days. Originally playing Elliot in the stage production, Eamon Farren now takes the role of Adam, the charming and alluring boyfriend of Greta’s sister Genevieve.

Both Greta’s journey through her everyday life and into her imaginary world make for a visually pleasing experience, the latter enchanting us with the appearance of creatures similar to those in The Mighty Boosh . The excessive timber décor and brightly coloured wallpaper in the Driscoll’s family home would not seem out of place in Napoleon Dynamite.

This 70’s styled theme continues through the music and dancing at the beginning and end of Greta’s party, which may well be the film’s funniest moments.

With the film coming in at an hour and a half, the only downside is that it’s just too damned short and leaves you wanting more. Also with many of the psychedelic 70’s songs in the movie making you want to put on your dancing shoes and boogie with the characters, it’s unfortunate there is not a mixtape available.

With the endless production of superhero films and film remakes these days, it is refreshing to see a film with such raw acting and originality from start to finish. It is also a pleasure to see such fantastic local talent being well utilised and supported by the SA film industry.

It’s hard not to fall in love with the characters in Girl Asleep, and be left with the warmth of the film long after the credits have stop rolling.

5 Stars

By Cat Kusmuk-Dodd