J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Girl Flu: Indie Mother and Daughter

Her name is Robin, but her mother calls her “Bird.” Obviously, they live in LA, because any New Yorker would automatically think of Robin Byrd, the notoriously naughty fixture of Manhattan public access cable. Young Bird needs a lesson in the birds and the bees, because she is about to get her first monthly reminder of womanhood, but her aging party-girl mother can’t handle real stuff like that in Dorie Barton’s Girl Flu (trailer here), which releases today on VOD.

White jeans, school outing. Yes, Bird’s first period is pretty much a perfect storm of yuckiness. Jenny is a mom, but she is not naturally mothering, but fortunately her no-nonsense pal Lilli sits Bird down for a brutally frank what’s what. Ironically, she even gets more compassion and practical advice from Arlo, her mom’s musician boyfriend, who is bizarrely losing patience with Jenny’s reluctance to commit.

Basically, Jenny’s casual mishandling of one of the biggest mother-daughter moments of them all unleashes Bird’s resentments, amplified by the girl’s jittery hormones. Clearly, she was not happy before, but her mother just buried her head in the sand. Aside from Arlo and maybe Lilli, the only one who really listens to her is Carlos, a smitten classmate who happens to have six older sisters.

Generally, Girl Flu is a likable indie, but there are two scenes in which Bird tries to pass off Arlo as her boyfriend that are unspeakably creepy. Although the older character never does anything inappropriate, he is probably still lucky to avoid arrest and prosecution.

Despite that uncomfortableness, Jeremy Sisto is terrific as Arlo. He is a smart, funny, and grounding presence, but as a professional musician, you’d think he’d occasionally play his instrument. Seriously, this cat doesn’t even practice.

Jade Pettyjohn looks like she is twelve going on ten, but she carries the film as the plucky Bird, while Katee Sackhoff is also convincingly annoying. However, they do so much yelling and bickering, they end up confirming chauvinist stereotypes regarding women. Still, it is mostly harmless and well intentioned. Okay for fans of frank but sentimentally schmaltzy indies, Girl Flu is now available on VOD.

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