Just Another Girl On The I.R.T Review

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Writer-director Leslie Harris has created a memorable character in Chantel (Johnson): black, bright and beautiful, a 17-year-old Brooklyn girl with an attitude and a mouth to match, and full of contradictions.

Chantel's most endearing quality is, of course, her strong will. She knows where she's at and where she's going. Until, that is, she meets Tyrone (Thigpen), the high school heart-throb with the cheek and looks to rival her own, and more importantly, loads of money and a brand new jeep. This is not, however, your run-of-the-mill teen romance with a happy ending, as Harris dares to create an ambivalence towards her protagonist by dwelling on the less attractive aspects of Chantel's nature.

Above all, Harris reveals what we have suspected all along, that Chantel isn't nearly as mature as she thinks she is. The beauty of this fresh and feisty movie is that it portrays a very specific experience - African-American, female, working-class - while at the same time addressing the universal problems of adolescence. It's a low-budget winner combining a sharp, protean visual style - one minute music video, the next cinema verite - with impudent humour, raw emotion, a thumping good rap soundtrack and some pertinent lessons in choice and responsibility. The IRT, by the way, is a subway line in New York.