Good Girl Jane exposes the things lost in translation between reality and film.
The awkwardness in intimacy. The stumbles, the tripping over words and feelings. The whole range of human complexities located in a teenage life.
First time feature director Sarah Elizabeth Mintz based the film on her experience as a freshman in high school getting wrapped up with drugs and toxic relationships. The feature expands on a 2017 short film of the same name, created as a proof of concept for the intended feature project.
The eponymous Jane is a high school loner. As a salve, she turns to drugs and their attendant crowd. She falls in love with her drug dealer. The relationship is…abusive, formative, grooming, damaging…it’s…complicated.
What stands out is Mintz’s ability to let scenes breathe. Cutting her teeth as an assistant to director Alejandro Inarritu on 2015’s “The Revenant,” it’s apparent she has an affinity and a skill for the unbroken long shot, which is the Inarritu staple.
And that’s where those “lost in translation” things shine. By not calling cut, Mintz forces you to see every little thing that transpires between point A and B — the imperfections, ugliness and beauty of it all.
But then those moments of long, deep breathes can wind you into exasperated sighs. Intimacy becomes sadness porn. Conversations devolve into teenage girl diary screeds — which is essentially what the film is and what makes it feel so authentic but at times much too maudlin to be enjoyable.
Hopelessness and depression is at the core of the movie. That’s Mintz’s story. And it works — for the most part. But when the beats of intense melancholy hit too hard, stretch beyond our limits as a sympathetic audience, the movie gets weighed down, compressing the breath that makes Mintz such a promising filmmaker.