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The (Other) iTunes $0.99 Movie of the Week: ‘Support the Girls’

Every week, the folks at iTunes find a movie they like and make it available to rent for the low, low price of $0.99. I’m here to tell you whether that film is worth your hard-earned dollar.

Ok, the featured $0.99 movie this week is a little action thriller called Mile 22. You probably saw the trailer a few months back, so you know it finds Mark Wahlberg re-teaming with his Lone SurvivorDeepwater Horizon, and Patriots Day director Peter Berg. If you’ve seen the Mile 22 trailer, you probably saw that it looks similar to those other films in terms of style and machismo almost to the point of parody. There’s nothing really wrong with that – the aforementioned films are all good enough on their own, and Mile 22 is probably just fine too – but if you’re growing weary of that style, you do have options, and one of those options happens to be one of 2018’s overlooked gems. So …

This week, the hard-working, do-gooding manager of a roadside “sports bar with curves” is pushed to the limit amidst a particularly trying day in Support the Girls.

Do You Like Working Here?

Have you ever had one of those days where one of your favorite employees needs a ton of money for legal concerns, and you’re trying to throw an under the radar fund-raiser but your boss shows up, and some guy is stuck in the vent of your work place, and the cable company can’t get your cable back on so your customers can’t watch the fight, and your car battery dies, and your personal life is in shambles, and you just want to run and hide from the world but you can’t because you work in one of most thankless f***king industries in the world and it requires you to press the flesh? Lisa is having one of those days, and she could really use a little support. So could Andrew Bujalski’s marvelous service industry dramedy Support the Girls.

Support the girls

I Like Working With You

I’d like to think you all recognized the name Andrew Bujalski, but I’m betting most of you didn’t. That’s a genuine shame, because over the past 15 years or so, Bujalski has been writing, directing, and even appearing in some of the most fiercely independent films around. Of course, those of you who do recognize Bujalski’s name probably know most those films were at the forefront of the so-called “mumblecore” movement of the early 2000s, and that not many people saw them.

Of that movement, I’ll just say that it wasn’t really a movement at all more than it was a collection of sublimely talented filmmakers (Joe Swanberg, Greta Gerwig, and The Duplass Brothers among them) who decided to make movies in spite of the fact that they had no money, no gear, and virtually no experience. That the films they made were less concerned with telling stories than they were with simply existing remains a patently radical approach to cinema. Though many of his contemporaries have moved on to greener cinematic pastures, Bujalski has kept working on the fringes of Hollywood. In a perfect world, Support the Girls would serve as the indie auteur’s breakout film.

Indeed, Bujalski’s latest low-budget confection looks and feels bigger than much of his prior work – save for 2015’s flawed but fun Guy Pearce/Cobie Smulders vehicle Results. While Support the Girls finds the director working on a slightly bigger visual and emotional canvas, his approach to story is no less focused and personal than those earlier efforts. Much like those earlier efforts, Support the Girls is also wickedly insightful, frequently laugh out loud funny, and often just seems happy to exist.

Support the girls

As far as an actual plot goes, there’s not much to cover in Support the Girls. The film follows Lisa (a revelatory performance from Regina Hall) as she tries to manage the day-to-day insanity of life in the service industry in all its maddening complexity. Along the way, Support the Girls touches on such varied topics as childcare, work/life balance, racial/sexual politics in the workplace, the dos and do nots of customer relations, and the pitfalls of remaining optimistic in a world all but consumed by soul crushing cynicism.

For those of you who’ve never spent time on that side of the service line, know that the hospitality biz breeds a particular sort of insanity that really has to be lived to understand, and that as bonkers as much of Support the Girls‘ plotting and characterizations may seem, they’re all pretty much spot on for what a day in the life of the service industry might become. Given, that would be one hell of an intense day, but Bujalksi presents the madness in such a grounded way that even the film’s bigger flights of fancy feel wholly plausible. As such, Support the Girls may well go down as the most honest depiction of life in the service industry ever committed to film.

It also happens to be a soul-piercing exploration of the American dream that understands implicitly how frustratingly out of reach that dream remains for most. In a perfect world, that should make Support the Girls required viewing for folks of every sex, race, and walk of life. But then, the film’s brilliant cast (including Haley Lu Richardson, James Le Gros, newcomer Shayna McHale, and up-and-comer Dylan Gelula), heartbreaking optimism, and deft blend of social comedy/commentary also should’ve made Support the Girls Bujalski’s breakout film. The fact that neither of those things seems likely at this point is enough to make anyone want to scream.

Support the girls

Worth It?

You bet. Witty, insightful, and grounded in ways that most movies never even aspire, Support the Girls is a deeply satisfying film possessed of rare heart and integrity. It’s also one of the more egregiously overlooked films of the past few years, so you really should count yourself lucky that you can experience it for just $0.99. See that you do.

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