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They say the best way to get over one person is by getting underneath another.

I don't know if this information is meant to be passed along to teenage girls but alas, it is put into play with Sophie Lorain's second feature, a French-Canadian production about a young woman in the midst of her sexual liberation. A young woman named Charlotte (Bouchard) discovers that the supposed love of her life/boyfriend is actually gay. Still in love with him, she gathers her friends and goes on a night of wild partying. Then they decide to get jobs at a local toy store to distract themselves. This, of course, only involves them more deeply with boys.

Courtesy of the Tribeca Film Festival

Charlotte manages to navigate her way around all of the young men who work at the toy store, almost getting a "perfect score," something usually only achieved by the boys when they manage to sleep with all of the new employees. Initially she finds this empowering, but soon realizes the boys are teasing her and the girls are shaming her. Determined to turn things around, a rampant serious of sexual encounters quickly switches to Charlotte and her friends deciding to stay celibate in order to raise money for charity. Yes, this is a little confusing, but so is being a teenager who clearly has too much time on her hands.

Like teenage emotion, the aesthetic of this movie is a little bit dramatic. It's shot entirely in black and white, and also involves numerous instances of Édith Piaf's "La Vie en Rose" playing in the background of Charlotte's racing thoughts. Some compare this film to Lady Bird, but the only similarity is that they both feature young women. These comments reflect a severe misunderstanding of coming-of-age narratives.

Courtesy of the Tribeca Film Festival

There are scenes that charm in this film, like Charlotte and her friends getting hazed at the Halloween party when they show up elaborately dressed up, or when her friend (Adam) struggles with being the last virgin in her posse, but they do not make for a charming movie. After the plot gets caught up in the question of slut shaming implied by the title, it decides to drop it. Everyone apologizes in the end and understands. Everyone stays more or less the same. We realize we have gone through an hour and a half with these characters only to come out on the other side seeing that they learn little from their actions, or if that's too harsh, at the very least have learned nothing of significant value.

It is fine to have teenagers sexually engaged, but it is hard to believe they are not affected by their frequent sexual habits. The owner of the toy store is pregnant from a casual encounter and then forced to raise the baby on her own when the father bails, but she is the only character who seems to understand the weight of what she is doing. These young people do not grow, and for a film where they are meant to come of age, it's a little upsetting to see that these individuals come only to understand how to use condoms but nothing else (they are often seen making jokes in poor taste in addition to their risky behavior with sex and drugs).

Courtesy of the Tribeca Film Festival

The issue here is not that teenage girls want sex. Most people who reach puberty know this is a normal urge. The issue is rather the fairytale-like coupling off at the end where both sides of the aisle decide they are no longer interested in trying to make a point but all rather want to fall into their simple relationships. Just as they are naive when they are appropriating the Bollywood dance moves or making jokes about race, they're childish to think this is the way people go about solving their problems. This is why they shouldn't be having sex, and maybe why you can skip trying to find an art house cinema for a screening of this film.

Running time: 89 min | Director: Sophie Lorain | Starring: Marguerite Bouchard, Rose Adam, Romane Denis, and more!


Find out more about Slut in a Good Way here.

Rachel A.G. Gilman is a writer, a radio producer, and probably the girl wearing the Kinks shirt. Visit her website for more.


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