Take one promiscuous teenage girl and one shy, bisexual teenage boy, add in a 1987 setting and music, one homophobic father and one absent father, mix. That’s the recipe for Abe Sylvia’s Dirty Girl. It premiered at the 2010 Toronto Film Festival. It released nearly a year later, in 9 theaters. And now it has come to DVD.
Juno Temple plays Danielle, the dirty girl of Norman High School in Norman, Oklahoma. She’s the sort of girl who is popular because she sleeps with boys, but her popularity takes a nose dive after her record of misbehavior in class gets her transferred to the remedial classes. There, she meets up with Clarke (Jeremy Dozier) who she refers to, without judgement, as “that fag”. They get paired up for a class parenting project where the kids are given a bag of flour that they are supposed to treat like a child, carry it around and write a journal from the child’s point of view.
Clarke’s father (Dwight Yoakam) is greatly troubled (to put it mildly) about his son’s sexual orientation, to the point of forcing him to see a psychiatrist in order to make him straight and beating him when he doesn’t straighten out. When Danielle proposes that the two of them run off to Fresno in search of her long absent father and after one more attempted beating from his father, Clarke steals his dad’s car and the two of them set out on a road trip that will change their lives.
The movie is a little odd, but that is part of its charm. Both of the leads, Juno and Jeremy, give fantastic performances, as does all of the supporting cast. A movie totally worth seeing, in my opinion. My favorite element of the film is the sack of flour. They draw a face on it for the project, and throughout the film the face changes to suit the situation. It’s a bit of whimsy that caught me off guard and set me to laughing every time.
The DVD includes some deleted and extended scenes, but the real feature is the commentary track by writer and director Abe Sylvia. He provides a lot of insight into the choices the story makes and the inspiration for many scenes, as well as behind the scenes tidbits such as the fact that Juno, who spends quite a bit of the film behind the wheel of a car, has no license and doesn’t know how to drive. My only complaint is that when the commentary is playing, the regular audio track of the film is so quiet that it might as well be off. If I hadn’t watched the commentary so close to my original viewing of the film (within a day) I might have missed some of the finer points of what Abe was saying as it related to the scenes being shown.
Not a blockbuster or award winner, Dirty Girl is still a solid film.