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Movie review: White Girl


Not rated    1:28     3 stars 

“White Girl,” directed by former Oklahoma City native Elizabeth Wood, isn’t going to bore you, and it isn’t going to give you easy answers. The film opens a hornet’s nest of questions about privilege, race, class and sexual politics in its relatively brisk 88-minute run time. Wood based the film in part on the experiences of herself and her friends as college students in post-9/11 New York City, though the film assiduously avoids setting itself on a particular date. 

In the film, Leah (Morgan Saylor) and her roommate move into relatively low-rent apartments in the Ridgewood area of New York, where she falls for Blue (Brian Marc), a young Puerto Rican man who deals drugs on her corner. Blue, as played by Marc, is charming and caring, his humor and sadness seemingly interlaced. Blue and Leah are instantly attracted, and act on it, but their romance faces many obstacles, including the film’s other “White Girl” — cocaine, a large package of which is on Leah’s person when Blue is busted.  

Leah initially seems the type for whom relatively little has ever gone wrong; for Blue, perhaps relatively little has ever gone right. Their romance is drug-fueled, though apparently genuine. Leah attempts to free Blue as best she can — but the deeper she dives into saving him, the more the walls begin to close in. 

Much has been made of the sex and drug use in “White Girl,” which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. And there is a lot of both. But the sex poses a question beyond pure prurience. Leah’s an adult woman who expresses herself sexually, and some characters in the film take that expression as consent. The privilege and power differential in many different relationships, and how that plays out in a frequently destructive manner, is raised as a question again and again in the film.  

Starring: Morgan Saylor, Brian “Sene” Marc, Justin Bartha, Chris Noth and India Menuez.

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Matthew Price

Features Editor Matthew Price has worked for The Oklahoman since 2000. He’s a University of Oklahoma graduate who has also worked at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and was a Dow Jones Newspaper Fund intern for the Dallas Morning News. He’s... Read more ›