‘Girl In Progress’ Movie Review
Kids are usually eager to grow up, but in the new film, Girl in Progress, one teenager who’s spent her entire life being a mother to her mother sees becoming an adult as her ticket to a life she believes will be better. But growing up is never as easy as it seems.
Ansiedad (Cierra Ramirez) is a little bit too smart for her mother, Grace’s (Eva Mendes) liking. Drawing inspiration from the great coming-of-age works of literature, she devises a plan that will guarantee her passage into adulthood, with stepping stones such as rebellion and loss of virginity. Her goal is to leave Grace behind; after all, her mother has always been too busy with work and the various men in her life to pay much attention to her daughter.
It’s a very simple idea, but the execution of the story is funny, although it occasionally skirts the edge of the ridiculous. Of course Ansiedad stumbles along the way, especially when it comes to how she treats her best friend, Tavita (Raini Rodriguez). Meanwhile, her mother is making a pile of mistakes as well as carrying on affair with a married man (Matthew Modine).
What really struck me about the film was how while her daughter was marching towards adulthood, Grace, who had been putting it off for years, began to make the journey herself. The relationship between mother and daughter felt very real, completely imperfect, yet absolutely full of love, even at their darkest moments.
At times, the script felt a little heavy-handed, in particular during the scenes with the gang of bully girls that Ansiedad takes up with as part of her rebellion, but the movie never lost its underlying charming, and much of that is owed to Cierra Ramirez’s performance. As a girl trying to be a woman, she found the right balance between child and adult, and she approached even the most uncomfortable scenes with palpable dignity.
I found the movie to be a fresh take on an old genre, and a wonderful showcase for a rising talent.
“Girl In Progress” opens to limited theaters today May 11th.