Mousie and Sad Girl are childhood best friends in a contemporary Los Angeles poor Hispanic neighborhood...
Set in L.A.'s Echo Park district, this focuses on a group of teenage Hispanic girls forced to look out for themselves and their babies because their menfolk tend to be dead, crippled or in prison by the time they are old enough to shave. Anders, director of Gas Food And Lodging, has tried for a Latino-flavoured, girl-centric Boyz N The Hood, working up a script from anecdotes from real gang girls and casting genuine hood hangers in the background. Out front, an unfamiliar, mostly engaging cast sport elaborate make-up and very big hair.
The film is constructed from various strands: two friends are set at odds when they both have babies by the same man; a slightly older girl comes out of prison and tries to live a more responsible life, only to be shocked by the death or deterioration of her contemporaries; a studious girl has her heart broken by a ladies' man and is supported by her friends; while another tries to learn drug dealing, only to be irritated by the ineptitude of the boys she works with. Despite all this plot, the characters mostly hang out and talk, toughing out their problems and hugging.
Structured more like a documentary than a fiction film, this never quite convinces. The actresses are all excellent, but look somewhere between rock video girls and John Waters' extras: the real gang members in the cast are three stone heavier and wear more make-up than the pretty principles. And it all winds up with a hackneyed death-of-an-innocent contrivance that underlines how bad things are.
Though the anthropological specifics of Echo Park are fresh, the whole thing is too much like so many other recent life-in-the-ghetto dramas to establish its own identity.