I’d be lying if I said I was an Australian Cinema connoisseur. Despite being an avid cinephile, I guess I’ve always been a bit ignorant towards my home country’s unique brand of cinema. But Girl Asleep may have absolutely opened my eyes.
Girl Asleep is set in the 70’s, as Gretta who is about to turn 15, has to deal with moving to a new school, dealing with her crazy family and an impending birthday party she has coming up.
Although it comes across as a simple coming of age story on paper, it is far from generic. Girl Asleep possesses a strong fantasy element that acts as metaphors for Gretta’s development. She encounters otherworldly beasts in the woods outside of her house that completely alter the tone and pace of the film.
It’s a wonderful tale of growing up and resonates beautifully with the inclusion of bitchy school girls, embarrassing parents and isolation, things we have all no doubt experienced.
A lot of credit has to go to Bethany Whitmore who plays Gretta. The 16 year old actress expertly captures the angst and anxiety of being a teenager. Harrison Feldman, who plays Gretta’s best friend, Elliot is delightfully awkward and chatty. The two have a lovely chemistry on screen as their budding relationship grows.
There is a lot of experimental camera work going on too with Rosemary Myers‘ proving that small film doesn’t necessarily mean boring aesthetic. Outlandish 70’s decor and a giddy, contagious dance number, not to mention those eerie woods scenes transform Girl Asleep into and incredibly striking film.
Girl Asleep is funny, touching and thought-provoking, blending something we have all gone through with something fictional and fantastical in order to get its point across. Bethany Whitmore deserves an MVP award for breaking hearts and conducting her role with the staggering maturity while Myers’ puts on a clinic behind the camera.
Review Score: FOUR AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Girl Asleep is now playing at the Sydney Film Festival. For screening and information, check out the website HERE.