Movie Review: ‘Slut In A Good Way’

Review by Jacquelin Hipes

Teenage heartbreak — particularly that of teenage girls — provides ample fodder for melodrama. We feel things more acutely and perceive the stakes of any relationship more sharply in that transitory period between child and adult. Much of the charm of Slut in a Good Way comes from contextualizing those extremes, without condescending towards the girls experiencing them.

Post-coital breakups are a harsh way to end relationships, as Charlotte (Marguerite Bouchard) learns after a painstaking yet ebullient afternoon spent lingerie shopping with her friends. Sex with her boyfriend has been less than impressive for Charlotte, who hopes that some black lace will provide inspiration. Unfortunately, sartorial choices aren’t the issue: after another unsatisfying session in the bedroom, her boyfriend confesses that he’s gay.

Distraught, Charlotte turns to her best friends for comfort. The cynical Megan (Romane Denis) and romantic Aube (Rose Adam) both insist that this revelation is neither world-ending nor a reflection of their friend’s attractiveness, but it takes the discovery of a bevy of attractive young men working at the local toy store to rouse Charlotte from her melancholy.

All three girls swiftly apply for and begin their part-time jobs at Toy Depot. One of the boys (Alex Godbout) catches Charlotte’s eye, though it isn’t long before her attention drifts to someone else. After a few weeks there have been many “someone else”s and Charlotte is taken aback to learn that she’s had a tryst with nearly every boy she works with. Aghast, she demands that her friends tell her if she was being “a slut in a bad way”, which Megan and Aube both vehemently deny.

The revelation of Charlotte’s promiscuity is refreshingly sex-positive. She regrets specifically sleeping with the boy that Aube had a crush on, but not the consensual affairs as a whole. Beyond the gossipy overtones, her choices invite a larger discussion among the teenagers at Toy Depot: why is the collective upset at Charlotte, but accepting of all the boys who participated just as eagerly?

It’s here that director Sophie Lorain and screenwriter Catherine Léger could have injected genuine gravitas into the repercussions, earned or otherwise, of Charlotte’s actions. Instead the film remains lighthearted, almost to the point of feeling disengaged. The performances from the young cast are universally charming, though, most especially those of Bouchard, Denis, and Adam. A small touch of seriousness comes from the black-and-white photography, as well as Lorain’s refreshing and extensive use of long takes. It’s rare that a story can focus so sharply on the all-too-common experiences of teenage girls without sensationalizing them. Lorain eschewing the unnecessary choppiness of countless takes and angles for each conversation goes a long way in showcasing the performances of her young leads.

Slut in a Good Way might have benefitted from some additional emotional weight. It’s undeniable, though, that the buoyancy it brings to a story about young women taking control of their bodies and their image is both welcome and overdue.

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