Silver Slipper


Reviewed by: Jane Fae

Silver Slipper
"A story that could at so many points have engaged and involved the audience seems to take place entirely behind a plate glass screen of teenage boredom."

There are many, many reasons for disliking the protagonist in a film. They may be the bad guy (or gal). They may be a complete bitch. Or bastard. They may do bad things. Or sometimes do good things with such insufferable piety that you want to throw heavy objects at your screen. There are many reasons to be disliked.

Yet mostly, the worst and the best have some redeeming feature, in filmic terms at least. Alan Rickman as a murderous Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood is the lowest of the low: yet still he keeps his audience riveted. For many, he steals the show.

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Then there is the true horror of the sister-sister cruelty acted out by Joan Crawford and Bette Davis in Whatever Happened To Baby Jane. Ugh! Except, because the two sisters here are played by such wonderful actors you are pulled, inevitably, into the on-screen awfulness.

But there is a secondary reason for rejecting the protagonist and this, I fear, Silver Slipper has in spades: that is the fact that the lead character is not just not unsympathetic but tedious, irritating and pretty much incapable of sparking any interest in what happens to them.

That I fear was my response to Rian (Kk Starrs), the young woman at the centre of this tale about first sex and teen angst. The movie opens with Rian and boyfriend (Michael Thompson) quite failing to 'do it'. By which is meant to have sex. The first time!

Which despite all the fanfare that attends this event in popular mythology is, we all know full well, usually a complete and utter damp squib. The condom falls off. Or bursts. One half doesn't orgasm. The other comes within 30 seconds flat and then lies there wondering what comes next. It is, depending on point of view, either tragedy or high comedy.

Not so here. After a minute or so of the most unerotic pawing in the history of foreplay, boyfriend suggests they 'do it'. Rian would rather not. Boyfriend goes home. Although given the sullen demeanour of Rian throughout, I was having serious difficulties wondering why boyfriend would want to have sex with such a cold, immature individual in the first place.

So far so usual. But then, a chance remark from Rian's best friend Nicole (Jessica Harthcock) or maybe Arina (Natalia Nova) – who knows! - Rian decides to auction off her virginity on a website. Something something doesn't want to be the only virgin in her year. Something something mega-bucks to be earned.

And that is it. What follows is a simple, almost documentary take on Rian's accommodation to the idea, introducing herself to the auction house and, we guess (the film never quite consummates on its main proposition) making a lot of money.

Whatever! A story that could at so many points have engaged and involved the audience seems to take place entirely behind a plate glass screen of teenage boredom. Is Rian excited about the prospect of a first shag? Horrified by it? Humiliated by the medical exams required? Perhaps. Perhaps not. Whatever.

Just occasionally, the story breaks through into real emotion, real drama but, the moment it does so, it shuts down. Rian tells her best friend what she has done. Whatever. Tells her mother. Her mother's boyfriend. Yeah, whatever.

And not just Rian. If the intention of director/writer Travis Mills was to illustrate through some sort of theatre of alienation the emptiness of west coast blonde life...the clipped dialogue, the emotion-free exchanges...then the film succeeds perfectly, creating a world that has nothing in common with 99% of its audience.

Except, in so doing, it pushes away, ceases to entertain; becomes little more than an exercise in tedious voyeurism.

This is not helped by the decision to close down the screen, after the opening scenes, and film the rest in letterbox format. A tribute to the smartphone generation, most of whom can't be bothered to turn their phone sideways in order to create more interesting filmic moments? But again, a point of limitation, of frustration to this film.

I don't object to films with monsters and dislikeable characters. In the end, though, I have real problems with films peopled by people who are just not very interesting: self-centred to the exclusion of all else.

Reviewed on: 25 Jun 2019
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Over the course of the summer after her graduation, a young woman decides to auction off her virginity on a website.

Director: Travis Mills

Writer: Travis Mills

Starring: Jessica Harthcock, Kk Starrs, Sasha Milan, Eric Almassy

Year: 2019

Runtime: 58 minutes

Country: US


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