Directed by: #BrianAndrewMendoza
“A devastated husband vows to bring justice to the people responsible for his wife’s death while protecting the only family member he has left, his daughter.”
Sweet Girl sheds light on the shattered state of the healthcare system in the U.S. as well as showcasing how severe trauma can deeply impact someone who has been exposed to intense, perturbing events. However, the real questions overall for this film – are any of these aspects portrayed in a balanced sense? Does their presentation cause more harm even through a work of fiction?
The horrors of the healthcare system are wonderfully carried through and intertwined with the revenge centre of the storyline, but the links to trauma responses aren’t carried through as delicately. When dealing with mental health issues in film, especially on a platform as big as Netflix, the consequences of audience response should be considered. I didn’t take too well to such detrimental effects on mental health being displayed in a violent way especially when heavy sigma already exists; Sweet Girl moves back and forward between somewhat helping and hindering this issue. I thought that it could have redeemed itself, unfortunately this aspect was absurd in more ways than one (more ways that I can’t explain here — spoilers suck) and really ruined the whole story arc by the end. The answer to my opening questions then being both yes and no, leaving me stuck between a rock and a hard place.
Despite this, I do have to say that I admire the writing work of Gregg Hurwitz and Philip Eisner for the most part; dialogue in particular. When you are finally hit with the climax of Sweet Girl a string of ‘I should have noticed that earlier’ start to tumble from your mouth. There’s subtle sentences, even one word exclamations at times, that guide you towards the twist that everyone is currently talking about. Dialogue is also the main creator for characterisation which is always a pleasure to watch unfold. Ray (Jason Momoa) and Rachel’s (Isabela Merced) father-daughter relationship grows beautifully through exchanges of words that are laced with much more emotion hidden below the surface; Simon Keeley’s (Justin Bartha) personality is expertly built by dialogue from his very first screen appearance, gaining strong audience reactions to his stance in the plot just from hearing his choice of words. The acting from the cast members mentioned here is spectacular in its own right but paired with thoroughly focused writing it really gives each actor’s talent a great boost of visibility.
Music is very important to me personally in film in order to drag me into the story and completely hold my attention. Sweet Girl’s Academy Award-winning composer Steven Price grasps each side of my face in his hands and fixes my eyes to the screen – an undeniably brilliant soundtrack and one I’ll surely listen to separately to watching the film. It builds atmosphere, it creates the centre part of any tension and suspense, it breathes life into bloody fight sequences… but I wouldn’t have expected anything else from Price after his work on multiple Edgar Wright films as well as other huge titles where music truly stands out, such as The Lord of the Rings (yeah, he worked on the music department for The Return of the King and The Two Towers, awesome right?!)
Sweet Girl doesn’t necessarily have anything unique about it; its your typical revenge film storyline step by step. If that’s one of your favourite plot focuses then sure, check this one out, nevertheless there are many other much more interesting titles than this. If you feel a bit bummed after checking this one out, I highly recommend films in the revenge based category of South Korean cinema – they’re the absolute best at revenge and blood.