Time for another writer-related movie review: Girl Most Likely (2012; originally Imogene). This one came completely out of the blue. Despite always having my writer-related-movie-radar up, I had not heard anything about it. My husband just randomly picked it off of Netflix because it has Kristen Wiig in it. We were, then, pleasantly surprised. Now, I think the enjoyment of most mid-grade movies has a lot to do with prior conceptions, so I don’t want to talk it up TOO much, for fear of ruining your enjoyment. Just watch it, with no expectations. 😉
Here’s the concept of the movie: Imogene is an aspiring playwright who is finding it impossible to live up to her prestigious grant. In true comic fashion, everything comes crashing down in her life at the same time some of the right people (including a love interest) walk in.
The story, the acting, the cinematography, etc., I would give a “Sure, fine. I appreciated it.” But what put it over the top for me, to a recommend, is the laughs. And good, clean laughs at that. I found the costuming to be a bit off (her old 90s creations were too in style), Imogene’s bitterness is never fully dealt with, the title stinks, and I am always bothered when love=casual sex in movies. (I also think the timeline of her life might be a little off? So that they could cast a slightly older Wiig?) But I would watch it again. Wiig does a great job (as does every other actor in the entire film), but the best character by far is George Boosh (Matt Dillon). Yeah, you read that right.
As for how it relates to the writing life, I have two things to say. The fact that Wiig is a playwright is underplayed (pun!) in many areas, which I found refreshing. Sure, she’s a writer, but she’s also a person, a person with back-story, baggage, and complications that sometimes have little to nothing to do with her artistic personality. She sleeps and pees and resents her mother just like anybody else. Yet, the message is there, subtly; living up to a contract and/or career expectations is hard. Many of us writers have experienced the promise of our youth–all those “You should be a writer”s or “You’re so good!”s–which is now translating into a semi-disappointing (much slower and more difficult and less lucrative than expected) career. In the end, the message is pretty oversimplified. Just write! And yet, I give and use that advice all the time. The details are in what is happening in Wiig’s relationships and psyche, and that can be the place that we need to look to resolve our own career issues, including writer’s block.
See my article, My Meandering History as a Starving Artist, for more about responding to the authorial promise of your youth.