Girl Asleep

A modern fairy tale (in 1970s Australia).

Rosemary Myers’ wonderful Girl Asleep is a modern fairy tale — if a story set in the 1970s can qualify as “modern.” As though it weren’t bad enough that introverted Greta (Bethany Whitmore) is the new girl at school in a small Australian town, her parents Janet (Amber McMahon) and Conrad (Matthew Whittet) have invited everyone at school to her big 15th birthday very much against her will. During the horrible party, she gets lost in the woods behind her house, and to go into more detail would ruin the surprises, but suffice it to say it’s like The Company of Wolves without that movie’s finger-wagging gynophobia. The movie’s strict formalism, as well as the kid’s-eye view of the world, inevitably invite comparisons to Wes Anderson, (as though he invented such things). But Girl Asleep — adapted by Whittet from his own play — is its own unique creature. Greta’s final moment of triumph and the resolution of her arc with her only friend, the nerdy ginger Elliott (Harrison Feldman), would be unthinkable in an Anderson film. The Roxie is pairing it with Amy Nicholson’s short documentary Pickle, in which a couple relates the various lengths to which they’ve gone to take care of animals, both domestic and otherwise. It’s thematically unrelated to Girl Asleep, but still heartwarming.

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