Film

“Never Goin’ Back” Offers a Breezy, Convincing Portrait of Female Friendship

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Never Goin’ Back, a day-in-the-life tale of two misfit teenage girls desperately trying to make some quick cash and escape their Dallas suburb, possesses an appealing blend of crudeness and charm. BFFs Angela (Maia Mitchell) and Jessie (Camila Morrone), a pair of high school dropouts who live together and work as diner waitresses, see their lives further disrupted by an acquaintance’s harebrained crime scheme. Writer-director Augustine Frizzell, making her feature directorial debut, is attuned to the giddy intimacies of female friendship, and Mitchell and Morrone are a charismatic pair. Watching them interact, whether in an embrace or with punches to the face (long story), it feels like you’re watching real friends, like these girls have known each other for years. Stories of young women are often too polished, but this one feels lived-in: The set design of Angela and Jessie’s bedroom, piled high with junk, is spot on, and the pair’s manic energy (and their love of weed) is reminiscent of Abbi and Ilana on Broad City.

The film might benefit from a touch of added backstory regarding how these girls ended up in their precarious situation, but Never Goin’ Back’s main missteps come when it relies too much on gross-out humor. An exaggerated puking scene doesn’t add much, beyond reminding viewers that indie films are weirdly obsessed with vomit as a quickie source of realness or a cheap laugh. Still, it’s a breezy watch, and even as Angela and Jessie run around lawlessly, making poor decisions at every turn, it’s hard not to root for them.

Never Goin’ Back
Written and directed by Augustine Frizzell
A24
Opens August 3, Angelika Film Center

 

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