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SLIFF 2010 Review: SUICIDE DOLLS - We Are Movie Geeks

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SLIFF 2010 Review: SUICIDE DOLLS

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Review by Dana Jung

Disney fans who are used to seeing actress Christy Carlson Romano as the consummate Disney mean girl in such fare as CADET KELLY, the CUTTING EDGE sequels, EVEN STEVENS, and the voice of KIM POSSIBLE may be shocked at her performance in SUICIDE DOLLS, showing at SLIFF. The talented Romano gave hidden depth to many of the stereotyped Disney good/bad girl roles, but in SUICIDE DOLLS, she does a complete 360 as the foul-mouthed, drug-addled high-schooler Amber who, with her best friend Jade (LaQuita Cleare, also one of the film’s producers), is contemplating ending it all.

Giving themselves one day to record a video diary and do some things for the last time, the girls basically sit around talking, complaining, arguing, and generally baring their souls. Both have problems, both think they have nothing to live for, and both lean on each other for comfort and support. These two young women could almost be the girls of THIRTEEN grown older, if not wiser.

Director Keith Shaw, an experienced AD in films and television, keeps things moving nicely in a dialogue-heavy film. The story unfolds in non-sequential fashion, inter-cutting different episodes from the girls’ past with the present day. We see how they first meet in a charming scene, we see the family issues at the root of some of their emotional problems, etc. Screen time is pretty evenly divided between the two, however, Romano dominates the movie in every scene she’s in. With her unconventional dark good looks and always-present hoodie, Romano shows how good she might have been as Lisbeth Salander in the DRAGON TATTOO series. When Jade asks if she’s worried about going to Hell after committing suicide, Amber replies flatly, “I’m already in Hell” And you believe her. Amber’s final moments onscreen are as harrowing and raw as it gets.

Unfortunately, the script, by first-time writers Charissa Gracyk and Gillian Perdeau, hits every teen suicide cliche and then some, including sexual abuse, HIV/AIDS, broken homes, drug and alcohol abuse, and more. Though at times it crackles with wit and real emotion, many scenes & plot-lines, such as Amber’s relationship with her stoned-out mother (the ‘Sheila monster’) just don’t ring true. While earnest, this approach (along with its somewhat cop-out ending) ultimately gives the project an After school Special vibe. But with Romano’s powerful performance guiding it, SUICIDE DOLLS is elevated to a memorable movie experience.

SUICIDE DOLLS will play during the 19th Annual Stella Artois St. Louis International Film Festival on Saturday, November 13th at 4:30 pm at the Tivoli Theatre.

4 Comments

  1. Payton Gardner

    November 13, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    I completely disagree. I saw Suicide Dolls at The American Black Film festival in Miami and the girl playing Jade was excellent. Christy in no way dominated the movie and in fact she was the weakest of all the name actors as Anne-Marie Johnson and Heather Tom outshined her as did Steven Bauer in their scenes. My favorite scene of the movie was Anne-Marie Johnson and Jade.

  2. hmm....

    November 13, 2010 at 2:31 pm

    You are a hater. Everyone was great. It was a little movie with a huge heart.

  3. ILovefilms

    November 14, 2010 at 2:25 am

    I just saw this film today at SLIFF. The acting was outstanding! Everyone was amazing. I especially love how Jade and Amber played off of each other. The emotions in the scenes was so raw, and the scene with Jade and her mother brought me to tears. I love to see independent films and plan to see more films at the festival.

  4. Willie

    September 21, 2011 at 9:58 pm

    Just do me a favor and keep writing such trecnanht analyses, OK?

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