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So as you know, I stopped writing lengthy reviews on this site this year, keeping the blog as more of a film diary of sorts.  Lo and behold,...

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Movie Review - The Girl in the Book

The Girl in the Book (2015)
Starring Emily VanCamp, Michael Nyqvist, Ana Mulvoy-Ten, Ali Ahn, Michael Cristofer, and David Call
Directed by Marya Cohn
***This film is currently streaming on Netflix***

Every now and then I'll find myself streaming a movie no one has heard about on Netflix and wondering why it didn't get a little more acclaim or recognition in the prior year.  2014's sleeper for me was The Grand Seduction -- seriously, give that charming flick a go -- and 2015 brings me The Girl in the Book.  While not quite of the same caliber of that aforementioned Taylor Kitsch film in part because of its low Kickstarter budget, The Girl in the Book tells the rather gloomy tale of twenty-nine year-old book editor Alice (Emily VanCamp) whose trying teenage years come back to haunt her emotionally when a friend of her father's, author Milan Daneker (Michael Nyqvist), returns to her life nearly a decade after causing irrevocable harm to her.  What exactly that "harm" is reveals itself slowly through a series of flashbacks in which the teenage writer Alice (played by Ana Mulvoy-Ten) is mentored by Milan as he tries to help her become a better wordsmith.

Even discounting the pain Milan caused her, Alice has also had to live with the fact that Milan's most popular novel -- one that has been read prolifically in high schools and colleges over the past several years -- is essentially a detailing of her teenage life.  This trying emotional anguish is elegantly displayed by Emily VanCamp, an actress perhaps best known heretofore for her work in several long-running tv dramas.  While tv certainly doesn't carry that "lower tier" stigma anymore that it perhaps once did, The Girl in the Book asks quite a lot from Ms. VanCamp and she exceeded my expectations, creating a character that was captivating and believably realistic in her emotions, actions, and reactions.  Her naturalness is matched by her younger counterpart Ana Mulvoy-Ten who captures the innocence and adventurous curiosity of a teenage girl.  Together, the two actresses have crafted a character I found to be immensely intriguing.

That said, The Girl in Book isn't quite without its faults.  I admittedly almost turned the thing off in the first fifteen minutes.  This is director Marya Cohn's first feature film and in those opening moments, things seemed sketchy visually and I found the story (also written by Cohn) initially bland and uninteresting.  I'm quite happy I stuck it out though, obviously becoming quite entranced with Alice's tale.  Granted, much like the beginning, the film's conclusion falls a bit flat, feeling too bouncy and nicely tied up considering the higher-strung emotional stakes that preceded it.  However, The Girl in the Book doesn't overstay its welcome (it's a short 85 minutes) and it gives us two of the better and certainly overlooked female performances from 2015.

The RyMickey Rating:  B

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