| The Red Right Hand
THE SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELLING PANTS
Watching the first half-an-hour of this film made me feel like a pervert. What started out as a possible children’s film quickly evolved into a female coming of age flick which progressed further into a young woman’s journey thing. This is always good in films - even when they’re done badly they can prove to be hilarious; spending ages poking fun at the immense flaws. The reason I came to this conclusion was that the advanced screening I attended was littered with little children, little children who -as the film progressed- realised this was no kid’s film and started to get bored. As I looked around I was convinced I was the only guy there who wasn’t a Father.
But enough of these things, on to the film itself. Based on the book by Ann Brashares this is the tale of four girls who have been friends since birth. Typically they are different in every way, with regards to personality, figure, interests, etc. yet they all remain best friends and are there for one another (Guys, you lost yet? Yeah, I know but this is how women bond. It‘s the same reason why this film would never work if the sexes were flipped, you‘d probably just end up with American Pie). The key scene opens after the short introduction to their personas, whilst out shopping in a flea market store our heroines find a pair of jeans and each take turns trying them on. Each fitting somehow, complimenting the girl’s figures and oddly fitting them all without looking out of shape. The girls then come to the conclusion that the ‘pants’ [I found every use of the word pants hilarious… simply due to the fact that the UK version of pants is underwear] had magical properties and even though the four were being separated over the summer they would take turns to wear the ‘pants’ for a week then send them on to the next girl, after logging the key events that happened whilst wearing said pants… following so far?
What plays out are four very different storylines, contrasting our characters different personalities yet each individual journey brings them closer to womanhood and closer to each other. The first girl is Lena [Bledel], a Greek-American who goes to Greece to spend the summer with her grandparents and family. Whilst there she falls into the sea and is ensnared on some debris at the bottom of the quay, luckily a young bloke is close-by, fishes her out and subsequently saving her life, they bond a bit and the whole ‘family feud’ thing comes into play. Think Romeo & Juliet, but Greek.
The second girl is Tibby [Tamblyn], the sort of goth/rebel of the group. When the others announced their plans for the summer she was the one who was stuck behind, looking for a low-paying retail job. At the same time she tries to film a documentary about ‘losers,’ her self-proclaimed new genre: Suckumentary. In her filming she meets a little 12 year old girl called Bailey. At first they’re at each other’s throats and Tibby can’t stop getting frustrated with her but can’t seem to shake her either. Eventually we find out that Bailey suffers from Leukaemia and her absences begin to worry Tibby.
Girl number 3 is Carmen [Ferrera], she’s travelled out of town to stay with her Father -who left when she was young- only to find out that not only is he living with someone else but that he intends to marry her by the end of summer. She feels isolated and at a distance from her Father which finally comes to a head as she runs off during the middle of a dress-fitting, only to return to their home to see them sitting down to a meal, laughing and chatting. She bails as soon as she can and turns to Tibby for help.
And finally, Bridget [Lively] who is the body of the group. Think long blonde hair, bust and legs; alright? Now think 17 and feel ashamed of yourself! The point is that she’s the one who goes off to this soccer camp in search of boys, then to her horror discovering it’s an all-girl camp. She flirts with one of the instructors and runs… she runs a lot. At the same time she has a deeper arch to her character (Thank God), she’s not just the eye-candy of the group. Her Mother committed suicide and her Father can’t connect with his daughter and so she has to express herself, be noticed and recognised by everyone.
The link that ties them are the pants. They are sent back and forth, each girl wearing them twice; the first week is usually introductory and seemingly pointless but the second brings about the somewhat conclusive magical element -that the girls first saw- of the garment. From the opening scene to the final scene you can see how the director and cast have worked to really mature and age their characters through their experiences, not just being make-up and dress sense but also through the look that they are now young women.
Although it’s very clearly a chick-flick and NOT a children’s movie, there’s little content for guys. In all honesty I felt inadequate as a male, seeing as the two leading males were Bridget’s love interest - the mindless blonde beach coach [Mike Vogel] who seemed rippled with muscles but at the same time a sort-of-compassionate side (the mutual ‘friends?’ scene after the ‘sex on the beach’ scene) and Lena’s love interest, the bastard child of Vin Diesel, Kostos [Michael Rady], who knew exactly what to say and do, stood up for his girl in the face of family dispute, etc. I simply saw this and thought, ‘My God, women are groomed from childhood to believe men are nice! Men aren’t nice! Surely all this is doing is making the naïve!’ But that’s just my bitterness, in truth it’s a very poetic story with some genuinely moving scenes. Not my schtick but a classic coming of age movie as much as Fried Green Tomatoes At The Whistle Stop Café was back in1991.
26th August 2005
The Scene To Look Out For:
When Tibby manages to help Carmen buck up the courage to call her Father and confront him about his actions and how he hid his marriage from her. It’s a rather emotional scene which shows this young lady upstaging an older actor -which is always good- then hanging up on him. Moving stuff.
Bailey [Jenna Boyd]. Bailey is the outsider of the group as she’s not part of the group at all. She’s the annoying 12 year old that hangs around Tibby. Her character manages to put a perspective on things and helps Tibby enter the world of loss that the other girls seem to be experiencing or have experienced.
Yeah, she said that we were right all along and that the pants are magic and I don't know the details but I do know Lena and for her to say that must mean... that it must be true... so I was thinking that maybe you could have them for a while.
In A Few Words:
Strong performances throughout this sweet teen-drama