Monday, October 5, 2009

Whip It - the best movie so far this year

Yeah, you heard me: I'm declaring the best film of 2009 so far to be the roller-derby-girl flick that Drew Barrymore directed. This one does so much right that it's hard to choose a short list of high points--but I'll try.

Ellen Page in the lead role is amazing. She's compulsively watchable, a far more complex character than the trailer would lead you to believe, and perfectly captures the my-body-can't-contain-me energy of the teenage years.

The rest of the cast performances range from very good to superb. These folks brought their "A" games to even the smallest of roles.

It makes you laugh out loud. A lot. Our audience howled over and over--and always when we were supposed to do so.

It makes you tear up. A lot. The emotions here are true and powerful, even when you know some of them are not going to take the characters anywhere good.

The derby action is fun. Yes, I'm biased because I think roller derby rocks, but Barrymore and her team did a good job of capturing the odd energy and strange crowds that surround this sport that is barely a step above the underground.

Most of all, it's truthful. Shauna Cross, who wrote the screenplay and the book on which the movie is based, and Barrymore never opted for a simple, easy answer when a more complex one would be more true. No one is perfect here, nothing ends or starts easily, everything comes at a cost and with its own benefits, and these people are real folks trying to live their lives as best they can.

Do not miss this movie. I'll go again if I get a chance, and I'll buy the DVD. It really is the best film I've seen this year.

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