Eva Mendes in ‘Girl in Progress’ – Review

From left to right: Eva Mendes ("Grace," left) and Cierra Ramirez ("Ansiedad," right) star in Lionsgate Home Entertainment's Girl in Progress. Photo credit ©2011 Pantelion Films/Bob Akester

A Mother’s work is never done.

Girl in Progress (2012) isn’t your standard coming of age tale. The story mostly avoid the natural flow of events that may have occurred in the more familiar “film mold” for a personality of the onscreen teenage character (no late night drinking and partying). Instead, Ansiedad (Cierra Ramirez), or “Ann,”the teen in this particular feature does the complete opposite–she decides to take life and all its experiences to create her own “real life” version of a coming of age novel. And that’s it. The meat of the film mainly centers around this concept, and her mother’s life is served to us as only a side dish. “Growing up” overall is the primary focus for Girl in Progress, however, character progression is slow and confusing due to inconsistent viewpoints–as a comedy and/or intensive drama.

Grace (Eva Mendes) is a waitress at a seafood restaurant who hasn’t had much luck in terms of relationships–she’s been in several in just a few years, and the two of them, Grace and Ann, frequently moved around the States. She is emotionally neglectful of her daughter and currently dating a married man (Matthew Modine). Ann of course loathes her mother’s behavior and is less than tolerant of her mother’s current relationship. In English class, she learns about coming of age tales and decides to mold her life accordingly to facilitate rapid progression towards adulthood.

Best friends? Not really.

From left to right: Cierra Ramirez ("Ansiedad," left) and Raini Rodriguez ("Tavita," right) star in Lionsgate Home Entertainment's Girl in Progress. Photo credit ©2011 Pantelion Films/Bob Akester

The subject matter in the film was taken lightly, and the dramatic, hard hitting progressions weren’t established until the near end of the film. When they did appear, there dilemmas were miraculously repaired within a matter of minutes. Unfortunately, realism isn’t the film’s strong point. It really did not give us a character to be concerned about. The film fails to allow these social experiences to occur naturally. Instead, it just feels mechanical (formulating a large diagram outlining her intentions), losing whatever emotional authenticity briefly that was briefly granted.

The film also contains subtle mockery of spousal abuse and a hateful scene involving Tavita (Raini Rodriguez) being the subject of ridicule among Ann’s newly acquired wrong crowd of friends–socially forcing Tavita to take diet pills as a result of ridicule for being overweight. This just might be appropriate for a highly satirical black comedy of teen drama films–but is detrimental fodder as a family drama.

Unfortunately, Mendes’ character wasn’t considered as important even though she is Anns’ mother and the other and is crucial to the film. Grace’s immaturity was failed to be amusing thereby causing a failure to notice Ann drastic change in behavior. Despite this peculiarity, Mendes demonstrates a satisfactory performance of the two. Girl in Progress could have been a satisfactory drama or comedy, had the appropriate direction been chosen.

Eventually what you have is a plot spun in many directions with uninteresting cliched, and pretentious character stories.

Special feature of Girl in Progress:

  • The making of Girl in Progress featurette.

Source Lionsgate Home Entertainment

Girl In Progress
  • Editor Rating

  • Rated 2 stars
  • Poor

  • Girl In Progress
  • Reviewed by:
  • Published on:
  • Last modified: 2012-09-11

Review Summary:

As single mom Grace juggles work, bills, and her affair with a married doctor, her daughter, Ansiedad, plots a shortcut to adulthood after finding inspiration in the coming-of-age stories she's reading for school.

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