By admin | March 15, 2006

Gretchen Finkle is that kid at everyone’s high school who attracts a strange, but strong sense of dislike. You know the kid I’m talking about…the one who doesn’t fit in, dresses kind of funny and is just plain annoying. Rather than embrace this unlikable loser, we go for the jugular every time and tease or beat on the kid until they shrink and become invisible in the hallway as a means of self defense. Such is the case with the title character in “Gretchen.”

Steve Collins’s film catches up with Gretchen as she falls in love with a total creep named Ricky. She thinks they’re in love until she finds him making out with a local slut in an alley way. This not only breaks Gretchen’s heart, but allows for some seriously pent up aggression to come out. The rage lands her in hot water but also gives her a chance to seek some freedom from the burdens of high school. After again falling for the wrong guy, Gretchen seeks out her father and the source of all her awkward discomfort becomes crystal clear.

“Gretchen” is a really dry, funny and sad film. Courtney Davis as Gretchen gives a solid performance as does the rest of the cast. Particularly John Merriman as Ricky and Becky Ann Baker as Gretchen’s mom. The bond between Gretchen and her mother is a sweet touch and without it, one might think Collins was cinematically abusing Gretchen just as everyone else does throughout the film. Gretchen’s mother is her biggest fan, maybe even her only fan. All in all it has to be mentioned that this film seems a tad long. I like how Collins follows through on the character arcs he sets out, but it’s almost like the joke gets old before the film is over. That said “Gretchen” is still worthy of a peek because it’s funny and might even make you rethink how you treat the “Gretchen” at your workplace. C’mon, you know you have one.

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  1. Thanks Don. I’ll definitely be on the lookout. Aside from the obvious bully-factor—called taunting in earlier times, it’s not surprising that the humor in the film is also sad. I find that most comedy is sad, to varying degrees. Also, it’s pretty easy for us grownups to talk about how evil mean kids are, but like it or not, all kids are mean to each other, even those of us who hopefully, grew out of that phase. The good news is that most mean kids don’t do anything more than taunt (I’m not saying that’s nice, but it is a fact of childhood), and thankfully, don’t resort to physical violence!

  2. Don R. Lewis says:

    I hope she’s a better writer than she is a reader. And “Gretchen” is on IFC quite a bit and I’m sure it’s on netflix.

  3. Wow, I’d never heard of “Gretchen,” but between Don’s spirited analysis (as always—and note, he’s not pro-bullying, and does say the film is dryly funny and sad), and Monique’s animated response, I really want to see this movie, and absorb it for myself! BTW, Are you a writer, Monique? If not, you should be!!!

  4. monique says:

    The writer of this review takes disgustingly perverse delight in the bully culture that craps on perfectly sweet, innocent people and presumes that we are all as bad as he/she is. A gretchen in my workplace that you are inviting me to snicker at with you, eh? this movie wasnt funny, it was sad. you are a cretin.go watch”i hope they serve beer in hell” and think about how much you identify with the shmuck in that.

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