“Support the Girls” takes place in a fictional Hooters-like bar called Double Whammies, where its staff must endure a series of indignities simply to make it through the day, but the new film from Andrew Bujalski makes an impact because it uses this extreme case to point at larger existential truths about life in the service industry in the United States.
Regina Hall plays Lisa Conroy, the manager of the nondescript Texas bar, who is a stern and nurturing figure for employees including Maci (Haley Lu Richardson) and Danyelle (Junglepussy).
The filmmaker, who is best known for his work such as “Funny Ha Ha” at the fore of the aughts’ mumblecore movement, observes in a characteristically unhurried manner as the staffers go about their day, dealing with unruly customers, technical malfunctions and the other standard aggravations that slowly build into something more transformative.
Hall is simply sensational, and might have garnered awards attention with the same performance in a flashier movie. She eases into the character with such grace that it takes a while to fully appreciate the depth and scope of the performance, particularly the way she pours such tremendous feeling into even the most ostensibly simple and routine of moments.
Her work captures the spirit of this movie, which offers up an exterior of nonchalance that hides a reservoir of truths in the ways it showcases a cavalcade of small struggles and dehumanizing moments that are only salvaged by a shared sense of camaraderie and mutual support.
It’s an experience that’s relatable in some fashion to anyone who has worked for minimal wages at a service job, and the film derives its sly and unexpected power in the naturalistic way its presented.