The dual-review film criticism site: first a spoiler-free review, then an in-depth Alternate Take.
Girl Most Likely

Reviewed by Jim Holden.

Director Shari Springer Berman, Robert Pulcini
Length 103 mins
Certificate 12A / PG-13
Rating ****------
Filmmaking: 2  Personal enjoyment: 2

Photo from the article A solo outing for (and primarily marketed as a film starring) Kristen Wiig, and given a very limited British release, the uneasy comedy Girl Most Likely sees Wiig play Imogene, a wannabe playwright and semi-socialite who never quite managed to get her big break. The film details her fall from the society in which she lived as she is dumped by her boyfriend and sacked from her job in New York. With nowhere to go, she decided to return to her family home where she encounters her mother’s new lover, her left-behind brother, and a tenant who rents her room. On top of this she learns that her long dead father, whom she idolised, may not be quite as deceased as originally thought.

Quite the synopsis. And that is one, but certainly not the only, problem in this seemingly quirky romantic comedy-drama. In fact it is hard to get quite what the major plot strand of the film is; on the surface it is a redemption story as, after her fall, Imogene returns home to discover what really matters, but then the ending betrays this. It could equally be read as much a mystery-laced drama, on account of the fact that Imogene’s dizzy mother, Zelda(Annette Benning), drops the bombshell that her father didn’t really die when she was a young girl, but actually just moved away and left the family. Imogene, inspired by this myth of her great father, then goes hunting for him without giving it much thought, questioning why, or thinking about the ramifications. Then there is the love interest strand, along with the subplot of the shy brother (Christopher Fitzgerald) who has barely left home and with whom Imogene must bond. There’s also ‘The Bouche’, her mother’s new lover, played gamely by Matt Dillon, who claims to work for the CIA but may just be a fraudster.

All these plot strands jostle for time and space in the lean running time, with none really taking centre stage. This aspect is what is most difficult to forgive about the film; it cannot settle or stick to its path. It almost feels as though the film has no courage in its own script, as Girl Most Likely becomes a series of sketches (oh look, an ironic Backstreet Boys dance number) in a film desperately needing focus.

The film is directed by Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini, who have fallen a long way since the wonderful American Spendour (2003), and contains a likable, entertaining performance by Wiig, who does her best to keep some humour flowing. Unfortunately, and ultimately, Girl Most Likely is, in many ways, a wholly frustrating experience.

This review was published on October 25, 2013.

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