Girl Asleep parents guide

Girl Asleep Parent Review

While the film points out many of the worst things about being a youth, it offers little advice on how to make matters better.

Overall C

Greta (Bethany Whoitmore) isn't sure if she's asleep or awake as she watches, in a dream-like trance, her childhood slip away and her adulthood approach. But when her Mum (Amber McMahon) throws her a surprise birthday party and invites all her peers from school, the soon to be 15-year-old knows her life is about to become a nightmare.

Violence C+
Sexual Content C+
Profanity D
Substance Use C-

Girl Asleep is rated Not Rated

Movie Review

Sometimes parents do the wrong things, for the right reasons. Or at least that is the conclusion Greta Driscoll (Bethany Whitmore) comes to when her mother (Amber McMahon) invites all her peers to a birthday bash to be held in Greta’s behalf.

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It is bad enough turning fifteen. It is even worse being the new kid at school. So far Greta has only made one friend: Elliot (Harrison Feldman), a quirky loner who often gets accused of being gay. She has been invited to hang out with some popular girls (Maiah Stewardson, Fiona Dawson, Grace Dawson), but the snobby and promiscuous trio aren’t a group she wants to associate with. No one else has really even taken notice of her. So why would a shy and awkward girl like herself want to be at the center of a party of strangers?

Tensions are running high at home too. The recent move has left Greta’s very social mum with nowhere to go and nothing to do, except drink secretly. Her father (played by actor Matthew Whittet, who also penned this script) is trying to smooth the family’s transition. Still, the married couple’s discussions frequently erupt into loud arguments. Her older sister Gen (Imogen Archer) seems to be adjusting the best—but everyone is a little uncomfortable with the womanizing boyfriend (Eamon Farren) she’s picked up.

Feeling like she is trapped in a trance she can’t awake from, Greta agrees to be the guest of honor and wear the ridiculous dress her mother has chosen for her. Yet as the celebration gets underway, things start to unravel. After being bullied, mocked and humiliated by some of her schoolmates (which includes ample amounts of crude slang and derogatory terms), the anguished youth retreats to her bedroom. Here she falls into a dream-like state that takes her on a nightmarish journey of self-discovery.

If you aren’t already thinking “art house film”, you certainly will be as Greta enters this dark fantasy world comprised of a scary forest and a feeling of impending peril. Strange characters in stranger costumes occupy this place. Some seem protective, like a fur-clad woman (Tilda Cobham-Hervey) with fighting skills. Others appear savage, such as a grotesque zombie and a pack of angry dogs. And another is a handsome celebrity who lulls her with flattery while making sexual advances. Just what she is supposed to learn from these experiences will be open to the viewer’s interpretation. I suspect we are supposed to pick up some clues from the fact many of the characters she meets in the woods are played by the same actors that represent people in her real life.

Like Greta’s parents, the movie seems well-intentioned. The art direction of the 1970’s sets, the inclusion of graphic effects in serval scenes and some amazing make-up and camera work, show a conscientious effort with the film’s technical elements. However, the inclusion of racy language, mild and moderate profanities and two uses of a strong sexual expletive (once with a sexual connotation) may be a concern for family audiences. As well, there is the depiction of a teen girl dating (and necking with) a man too old for her, but too young for the married and professional women he also flirts with. Meanwhile, the script’s message is lost in metaphor, so all its earnest attempts to create an insightful coming-of-age story only result in a confusing and superficial look at the plight of adolescents. While the film points out many of the worst things about being a youth, it offers little advice on how to make matters better.

Directed by Rosemary Myers. Starring Bethany Whitmore, Harrison Feldman, Matthew Whittet. Running time: 77 minutes. Theatrical release September 30, 2016. Updated

Get details on profanity, sex and violence in Girl Asleep here.

Girl Asleep Parents Guide

What do you think Greta learns from her experiences? If you were to write a sequel to this movie, how might Greta be different because of these life lessons?

Elliot boldly confronts Greta near the end of the movie and tells her how she has hurt him. What does this demonstrate about Elliot’s ability to advocate for himself? Were you surprised by his fortitude? What could Greta learn from Elliot? Do you have acquaintances who may offer important life lessons that you have overlooked?

Greta’s mother is determined to teach Greta how to socialize with others by holding a party and inviting her daughter’s classmates. What is wrong with her methods? What might she have done instead?

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