Modern Girls in Trouble (Shuttle, Jennifer’s Body) By Brian Kirst
While Jennifer’s Body, currently gracing the cinemas, acts out with an uber-hip dialogue track and a funky sense of humor it also has a poignancy and an intimacy- its common ground with the drastically violent Shuttle, a taut film which briefly inhabited fine arts theatres in March 2009 and has recently rolled out onto DVD.
Both films center around the friendship between two young women (and in each, one is a good girl while the other is voraciously obsessed with herself) and each deals with sexuality and the constraints of the perfect body- ultimately, deadly forces in both films.
Shuttle starts out as a horror-thriller with two handsome, flirtatious couples and plenty of ‘I didn’t see that coming’ twists. It’s a truly enjoyable ride with a couple of awesome scare pieces (the first involving the loss of one hunk’s fingers and the second, another’s violent crushing beneath the wheels of a mini-bus) and a nice sense of focused dread. But only as secondary characters are deleted and just the life long girlfriends remain does the true horror of the piece finally sink in. Forcibly posed in underwear, de-tattooed, hair altered to blonde and their innermost secrets exposed, these friends find themselves in a reality that is truly cringe worthy to both them and the audience – proving that sometimes the loveliest girls do have the highest price to pay. Its final images stay with you long past the characters’ penultimate breaking points.
Jennifer’s Body, meanwhile, is more sarcastic – an almost cult film with cute appearances from its celebrity writer Diablo Cody, performance artist Amy Sedaris and horror legend Lance Henriksen. Still, despite its gum snapping tartness, its primary strength is the blood bond between best friends Jennifer and Needy and the glossy respect it brings to the act of growing up. Jennifer, played by Megan Fox, is indeed beautiful and her body is shown to great effect – but its ultimate deterioration seems to reflect her own casual, waveringly hearted acceptance of her attributes – and despite Fox’s effective performance, the film ultimately truly belongs to Amanda Seyfried’s strong Needy. Indeed, nice girl Needy turns into quite the powerhouse kick ass and it’s a thrill to watch Seyfried bring her to that level.
Most importantly, though, through these transformations, one can remember the awkward joy of their first sexual experimentation and that confused alternating between determination and insecurity (which is a fact for many, not just in the high school years, but throughout their existence as well). One truly leaves the theater with an almost wistful feeling about the peculiarities of existence – something that both Shuttle and Jennifer’s Body play into nicely while still staying proudly true to their own blubbery, bloody genre specific ways.