When we’re children we often look at the adults around us and wish that we were older, on our own, and able to have the freedom to do and say whatever it is that we wanted. All too often the ignorance of adolescence has one believe that being an adult offers one the ability to do and say whatever you want. But as adults we recognize that with age comes responsibility and with responsibility comes limitations. Contrary to what most teenagers and youths would believe, being a kid is much simpler than being an adult.
Eva Mendes plays Grace, a single mother who works for a living, pays her bills, and when she’s not doing those things she’s all too busy having an affair with Dr. Harford (Matthew Modine), a married man. She doesn’t have all that much time to pay attention to her daughter Ansiedad (Cierra Ramirez).
Ansiedad is a good kid. She’s a good student, has a good best friend (Raini Rodriguez), but feels neglected by her mother. While in class, her teacher, Mrs. Armstrong (Patricia Arquette) begins to teach a lesson on coming of age stories. Ansiedad comes up with the plan that in order for her to break away from her mom, she has to herself, come of age. So she begins to scheme to become a good girl gone bad who will lose her virginity and then leave on a bus. Essentially the loss of her virginity is her ticket to adulthood.
The film is directed by Patricia Riggen and while it starts out a bit slow, as the film progresses more and more heart is infused into the film. Ansiedad is an innocent girl who honestly believes that if she follows her plan and goes bad, loses her virginity, and leaves town, that she can successfully come of age.
What should bother parents about this isn’t so much the subject matter of going bad, losing one’s virginity, etc. but more of the fact that something as simple as a class lesson can influence a student so strongly that they take the lesson’s of the characters in the stories as a guidebook. Now you’ll probably say that this is just a movie, but this does happen in real life where a student gets an idea from a teacher. Kids are highly impressionable and especially troubled ones.
As far as the acting goes, Cierra Ramirez steals the show with her presence on-screen. She comes across as sweet when she needs to be. She’s deceitful when she wants to be and vulnerable and impressionable at all times. She plays the character well. Not as a bad kid, but rather as a troubled kid that is very confused with no one to talk to and feels as though there is no one that can/will listen.
While not a perfect film, there is certainly a lot of heart in this film. It’s good to see that all of the characters experience a lot of growth and that by the end of the film, each of them has their own epiphany. If only it were that easy in real life.
FINAL GRADE: B –
Reel Film News Movie Review by Bill Ayres