Dirty Girl Review
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According to writer/director Abe Sylvia, most of us have a limited memory of high school. We can all remember our best friend. Maybe we can remember our second best friend—though probably not our third. But we can definitely remember the Dirty Girl—the girl who played by her own rules, who always had everybody talking. So, in his first feature, Sylvia decides to tell her story.

Dirty Girl stars Juno Temple as Danielle, the dirtiest girl in Norman, Oklahoma, in 1987. After she gets in trouble for using inappropriate language in class, she’s sent to the special Challengers class as punishment. There, her first assignment is the old parenting project: team up with a classmate and act as parents to (in this case) a bag of flour. To her great dismay, she finds herself paired up with Clarke (Jeremy Dozier), a pudgy loner who’s clearly gay.

As Danielle searches for her next guy, Clarke just wants to be a good parent. But the two of them have one thing in common: they’re both hiding their true feelings. Clarke lives in fear of his homophobic father (Dwight Yoakam), and Danielle dreams of meeting the dad she never knew. So when Clarke digs up information on Danielle’s dad, the unlikely friends head out on a cross-country road trip to find him.

Racy and irreverent yet loaded with heart, Dirty Girl is the story of a couple of misunderstood young outcasts on a mission to find acceptance and love. It may not be an entirely original concept, but the characters are interesting nonetheless. Neither one is perfect—they’re certainly both flawed—but the film explores their backgrounds, their personalities, giving insight into why they are the way they are.

Clarke is a lovably awkward repressed teen who’s forced to hide who he is or risk beatings from his oh-so-creepy redneck father (who, incidentally, is played so well, he’ll make your skin crawl). Clarke is quiet and reserved, and he wants nothing more than a way to escape—to finally be himself.

Danielle, however, is a little more complex. Raised by her eager-to-please young mother (played by an amusingly feathered Milla Jovovich), who’s currently trying to convert to Mormonism for her new boyfriend (William H. Macy), Danielle knows nothing about her real father—though she does have a picture stolen from her mother’s room. While her mother tries to create a new family for her, Danielle lashes out, looking for love and attention from anyone else. She’s not an easy character to love—especially when she repeatedly attacks Clarke, her one real friend. But her insolence sometimes makes for some outrageously funny moments—and it makes her eventual transformation all the more satisfying.

The damaged characters sometimes make it a difficult film to watch, but Dirty Girl is a surprisingly sweet film, complete with a lovable cast and a great ‘80s soundtrack. See it, and it might just make you look at your own high school’s Dirty Girl in a whole new light.

DVD Review:
The DVD release of Dirty Girl is pretty basic—so you won’t find any making-of features or blooper reels. You will, however, find four extended / deleted scenes (featuring a little more of William H. Macy) and a commentary track with Sylvia, who’s eager to offer up all kinds of little tidbits of information about things like casting, styling, and music choices.

Of course, if you’re looking for behind-the-scenes footage, you’ll be disappointed by the film’s skimpy special features menu. But if you’re willing to take the extra time, you’ll get the same kind of information from Sylvia’s commentary.

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