Nothing brings me more join that having my expectations thwarted, especially in an indie film. That happens quickly in Aurora J Culver, Ambika Leigh, and Samantha Macher’s To The New Girl. Its opening moments give off a Fosse Chicago-vibe at an L.A. Open Mic night, and our first actress steps forward with her scripted monologue. Initially, I looked down at the clock, spying the long 81-minute countdown. To great joy, I found myself on an engaging and insightful ride.
So, the plot is simple. Ten women step up to the mic and, in spoken-word fashion, talk about the scorn they felt toward their exes’ new lovers. Zoe (Charlotte Evelyn Williams) is humiliated that another woman is willing to put up with her man’s infantilism fetish. Miriam (Kelly L. Goodman) is bitter that her Jewish husband is now married to an Irish woman. Bethany (Skyler Vallo) confesses that she shares her T.V. preacher husband with his male lover, and Sheila (Lavetta Cannon) was dumped for a woman who could give her man a child. The film moves from one story to the next and ends with a heartbreaking tale from Harriet (Leslie Simms).
“Ten women step up to the mic and…talk about the scorn they felt toward their exes’ new lovers.”
Ten women speaking in front of a mic for 81-minutes is hard to pull off as the unchanging format wears over time, but To The New Girl shows it can work if you have the right ingredients, and it is crafted just right. It starts with Samantha Macher’s script. In the #MeToo era, these stories could potentially come off as angry and political. Instead, with each predicament, Macher draws you deep into the personal account of the speaker. We empathize with each situation, and then Macher pulls out some twists or jabs, creating an emotional button at the end.
With compelling stories come compelling actors. Here, directors Culver and Leigh pull out the right, if not, perfect, performance from their actors. Each story requires a specific and unique tone from the rest. Some are played for comic effect, others with deadly seriousness—for Leslie Simms as Harriet, she absolutely nails it for the finale in a piece that not only fits the overall theme but is vastly different from the pack.
As a film, To The New Girl is brilliantly crafted from production to script to acting. I was engaged from start to finish in, again, a film that’s ten actors speaking into a mic.
"…draws you deep into the personal account of the speaker."