“Very Good Girls” ostensibly is a movie about two modern-day, virginal teens experiencing a loss of innocence over the course of a summer when they both fall for the same hunky oaf.
The premise demands some intense drama and angry confrontations interspersed with the usual dreamy nostalgia.
Writer-director Naomi Foner, however, keeps things as safe and tame as a Nicholas Sparks adaptation. She imbues the picture with endless scenes in which characters played by Elizabeth Olsen and Dakota Fanning stare dewy-eyed at Boyd Holbrook’s David, the shared object of their affection, while failing to define the protagonists as anything more than young women lusting for this aloof street artist/ice cream salesman.
Sure, Olsen’s Gerri plays guitar and dresses in fabulous hippie-chic designer duds, while Fanning’s Lilly works as a tour guide and is headed to Yale in the fall.
But they’re really a single-minded duo, and the movie telegraphs their interests in obvious ways and demonstrates little understanding of the ways one might come of age in the smartphone era.
As a study of a friendship under duress, “Very Good Girls” doesn’t fare much better. It’s sincere and well-meaning, and the New York settings are lovingly photographed, but it treats a complicated experience with painstaking simplicity.
‘Very Good Girls’
Directed by Naomi Foner | Starring Dakota Fanning, Elizabeth Olsen | Rated R | Playing at Village East and on VOD