“Yes, you can. The question is: will you?”


Writer/director Naomi Foner’s debut film focuses on two best friends who fall for the same guy in the summer before they separate for university. I was drawn to Very Good Girls on the talent of its leads — Dakota Fanning is superb as the awkward Lilly but a 25-year-old Elisabeth Olsen is miscast as Geri, never remotely believable as a high school graduate struggling to lose her virginity. This is not a coming of age story, and little room is given to character development (the arcs are, if anything, complete circles); its overarching theme is the effect of guilt on relationships. The first half of the movie feels more languid slice of life than story driven, with subtle direction and naturalistic performances successfully drawing the audience into Lilly’s world. This is then undermined by characters making strange decisions seemingly to advance an unconvincing narrative rather than from personal motivations, leaving a muddled impression and little sense of what the film is trying to say.