‘Slut In a Good Way’ Film Review: Teen Girls Come of Age in Sexually Frank Comedy

A young woman defends her right to play the field as much as her male counterparts in Sophie Lorain’s slight but amiable comedy

Sexual power plays and slut-shaming are the central themes of “Slut in a Good Way,” director Sophie Lorain’s slight but amiable story of three straight teenage girls and their romantic lives. Shot in black and white and set mostly in a retail environment, the French-Canadian film gives off a “Clerks” vibe as the trio of protagonists slack off, bitch about pay, and talk about life and love.

Catherine Léger’s story starts off in a sex shop as 17-year-old Charlotte (Marguerite Bouchard) looks for a bustier that matches one she saw in one of her boyfriend’s porn clips. What she buys doesn’t have the desired effect, though it wouldn’t have mattered what she chose: Her boyfriend tells her that he’s gay. So she gets drunk on a playground with friends Mégane (Romane Denis) and Aube (Rose Adam), lamenting that he’s “perfect” and she loves him. Charlotte starts to forget all that, however, when they stumble into a toy store and notice the college-age guys working there. The three apply for jobs, and soon they’re flirting for a paycheck.

Charlotte doesn’t have to wait long for a rebound opportunity. Her first training shift is with Guillaume (Alex Godbout), who’s playful with her while insisting that he’s not, in fact, chatting her up. He charms her. On her second day, however, she works with the much more direct Francis (Anthony Therrien).

Soon she’s slept with most of the guys employed there, and it’s only when she starts to circle back to Guillaume that she discovers the boys have been talking, and she’s on her way toward racking up a “perfect score,” i.e. having sex with everyone. Charlotte is both mortified and angry — why should she be judged while the guys are probably high-fived?

That such a double standard exists isn’t exactly a fresh idea, and “Slut in a Good Way” suffers from a lack of surprise, aside from a slightly ridiculous development: Inspired by the guys’ Movember charity campaign, the girls decide in a “Lysistrata” turn to take up abstinence in order to raise money for apes. They put empty jars on the store counters and rake it in. “It’s nuts! People actually care if we’re abstinent,” one says.

Not quite everyone, darling. After a while, it’s difficult to care about the girls’ drummed-up drama, especially when it comes from the contrary Mégane, an abrasive budding socialist who at one point loudly proclaims that the employees should give away the store’s merchandise when she discovers how little they’re being paid. There are no adults in this world — although it’s worth noting that between the playground and the toy store, there are two children’s milieus in which the girls play like grown-ups — so there’s no one to reason with her that low pay is to be expected when you’re working 10 hours a week at your first job.

Mégane’s anti-love screeds are more sensible, at least when directed toward the sentimental Charlotte. Charlotte’s initial tendency toward “emotional dependency” is hammered home with her obsession with Maria Callas’s “Habanera” from “Carmen,” snippets of which play several times throughout the film: “If you don’t love me, then I love you/If I love you, you best beware!”

True to form, Charlotte takes out her anger about the boys’ “perfect score” game on Guillaume, who never really tried to sleep with her and takes it all in stride: “I thought it was funny. I thought it was a rebound. Lots of rebounds!” His relative maturity is refreshing compared with the girls’ frequent hissy fits.

But Charlotte’s not amused, at least until film’s end, when everyone starts to make nice again after the abstinence game — and to be sure, it’s also a game — blows up. In true romantic comedy form, “Slut in a Good Way” wraps up with a Bollywood-themed dance number at a Christmas party. It’s the most joyous moment in the film — which, considering this was supposed to be a sex-positive teen story, feels a little wrong.

Keep
Reading...

Looks like you’re enjoying reading
Keep reading by creating
a free account or logging in.