Support the Girls
dir-scr Andrew Bujalski
prd Houston King, Sam Slater
with Regina Hall, Haley Lu Richardson, James Le Gros, Shayna McHayle, Dylan Gelula, AJ Michalka, Brooklyn Decker, Jana Kramer, John Elvis, Lea DeLaria, Lawrence Varnado, Jermichael Grey
release US 24.Aug.18, UK Oct.18 lff
18/US 1h30
Support the Girls
Band of sisters: Richardson and Hall

hall legros decker
london film fest
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Support the Girls Crisply well-written in a way that avoids the obvious gags, this dramatic satire pokes fun at American chains that require waitresses to dress in skimpy outfits and have no more more than one black waitress on duty per shift. While recounting a day in the life of a frazzled manager, writer-director Andrew Bujalski astutely observes the issues in a way that's quietly involving rather than madcap funny.

Double Whammies is a family restaurant, although the waitresses clearly dress for the men. Manager Lisa (Hall) glosses over the obvious, while senior waitress Maci (Richardson) teaches new employees how to increase tips by maximising their cleavage, bare midriffs and bare legs. As she juggles various minor emergencies at work and in her personal life, Lisa organises a car wash to raise cash for a friend, helped by her friend and star employee Danyelle (McHayle). But her boss (Le Gros) is thoughtless and critical, preoccupied about a national chain that's moving in nearby.

While the film opens as a comedy, it quickly shifts into a darker drama, with events that become more pointed as the film takes on an ugly side of culture. There's a wry irony to the entire premise, but this is played for its thoughtful provocation, rarely for laughs. Everyone knows exactly what these kinds of restaurants are about, so whether they're exploiting these scantily clad women, or whether the women know exactly what they're doing, the situation is deeply wrong.

There's an earthy, offhanded realism to the performances that draws out edgy humour and surprisingly gritty emotion. Hall is terrific as the capable woman no one takes seriously, putting up with sexism and racism from every side. She has a zero-tolerance policy on disrespect and isn't afraid to enforce it. Most of her girls seem to just be chasing a good time, but they also have bills to pay and mouths to feed.

The absurdity of this restaurant concept is a central theme, as is the fact that women have to work so much harder simply to get even a moment of respect. In the end, the film settles in on the momentous decisions Lisa, Macy and Danyelle take to maintain their dignity in the face of idiotic men who make decisions that affect their lives. They know they are a family as long as they stick together. And maybe sometimes what you need is to just scream at the world at the top of your lungs.

cert 12 themes, language, violence 19.Sep.18

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© 2018 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall