Approach Girl in Progress with Caution
- Friday, May 11, 2012
Ansiedad’s attempt to grow up too fast runs the gamut—smoking, drinking and sex, with the latter presented in unblinking fashion. Ansiedad asks a boy (Landon Liboiron), “Will you take my virginity?” He agrees, only to find out that Ansiedad hasn’t ever been kissed by a boy. Soon Ansiedad is handing the boy a condom, and we see the boy as he, just off camera, attempts to put on the condom.
The portrayal of Ansiedad’s blossoming sexuality and the willingness of a young man to provide her first sexual experience is bracing in its frankness, but it’s also uncomfortable to witness. There are lessons here for younger viewers about poor choices, and the danger of repeating the mistakes of our elders. But parents who choose to see this with their teenage children might be surprised at how direct the movie is. Could it lead to some good discussions about how to resist temptation? Sure. But the question is whether a film like Girl in Progress is necessary for such discussions, and whether exposure to the situations its lead character experiences might be too much for young viewers.
Hanging over Ansiedad’s choices is her mom’s own past—getting pregnant as a teen so she could leave an unhappy home—as well as her mom’s poor choices as a parent. It’s Ansiedad who has to point out her mother’s bad decision to date a married man. Surrounded by poor adult role models, Ansiedad carves out her own way forward, but that way is fraught with peril. It takes a wise teacher—the one admirable adult character in the film—to stand up to Ansiedad’s increasingly cynical view of life. “Am I letting you down?” Ansiedad barks to the teacher. “You’re letting yourself down,” the teacher responds.
Girl in Progress is a letdown early on, but it grows more interesting, not less, as it goes on. But it risks alienating its audience, playing its story safe for long stretches before pushing the boundaries of what younger viewers should be exposed to. Although the film raises valuable questions about the dangers of adolescence, Girl in Progress is likely to make many viewers uncomfortable.
This is one cautionary tale that should be approached with caution.
- Language/Profanity: “Crap”; “sucks”; “a-s”; “dam-it”; “retard”; “oh my God”; “for God’s sake”; a middle finger extended.
- Alcohol/Smoking/Drugs: Scenes of smoking and drinking, often by teens; Ansiedad arranges to have alcohol purchased; a woman is said to be an alcoholic; Ansiedad says she’s drinking and doing gateway drugs; a young girl is said to have taken pills.
- Sex/Nudity: Kissing; Ansiedad plots to lose her virginity; cleavage; a boy tells a girl, “You’re not my girlfriend, no matter what we do in my basement”; crude reference to sex; Ansiedad hands a boy a condom; we see him bare-chested, from the waist up, while trying to put the condom on (off-screen), but the condom flies off; pictures of barely-clothed women; we seen Ansiedad in her bra; Ansiedad says she intends to have sex “soon,” because that’s what her mother did at a young age to get away from home.
- Violence/Crime: References to wife-beating; stealing/theft.
Marriage/Religion: Grace has an affair with a married man; reference to a Greek demon.
Questions? Comments? Contact the writer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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