Very Good Girls turn out very bland

Dakota Fanning is the schoolgirl who has a crush on the same guy (Boyd Holbrook) as her best friend. -- PHOTO: SHAW ORGANISATION
Dakota Fanning is the schoolgirl who has a crush on the same guy (Boyd Holbrook) as her best friend. -- PHOTO: SHAW ORGANISATION

Review Romance drama


91 mins/Opens tomorrow/**

The story: High-school best friends Lily (Dakota Fanning) and Gerry (Elizabeth Olsen) make it their summer goal to lose their virginity before they go to college. But their friendship gets tested when they both fall for the same guy (Boyd Holbrook). He starts a sexual relationship with Lily, who is terrified to tell Gerry the truth.

Dakota Fanning and Elizabeth Olsen start stripping and it takes a while to get used to the idea that both are now grown women.

One often thinks of the two as forever stuck in their cutesy child and pre-teen selves, so it feels slightly inappropriate to be watching them explore their sexuality - though that actually works for their characters, given how awkward they are around their shared crush.

But if they were hoping that this would be that provocative project to bring them out of kiddie movie kingdom, then they have made a poor gamble because the film is utterly forgettable, even if the two get naked quite often.

The actresses try all they can to breathe life into their poorly drawn characters, but there is little they can do with the uninspired material that they have to work with.

The entire story is preposterous, from the way Lily keeps her romantic dalliances secret all summer to how enamoured the two best friends are over the same guy, especially when he is so pretentious and dull.

Sure, model-turned-actor Boyd Holbrook (and Olsen's real-life boyfriend) looks like a young Ryan Gosling, but there is nothing beneath his pretty blond shell to ever justify the two girls' infatuations.

He appears at Lily's doorstep at odd hours of the night and stalks her around her workplace, which comes across as more creepy than romantic.

Equally wasted are the rest of the surprisingly big-name cast that includes Demi Moore and Richard Dreyfuss, who must have signed on as personal favours to first-time film-maker Naomi Foner, the Oscar-nominated scriptwriter of Running On Empty (1988) - who also happens to be Maggie and Jake Gyllenhaal's mother.

One of them, after all, is her own son-in-law Peter Sarsgaard, who takes on the role of Lily's summer job boss, a tour agency head who openly lusts after her.

As scintillating (and bizarre) as it would seem for a director to be filming one of her family members lusting after a much younger girl, the film itself is disappointingly bland.

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