This Girl’s Life examines the world of a young internet porn star named Moon (Juliette Marquis, in her acting debut). It focuses on her relationship with her Parkinson’s disease-suffering father (James Woods), her best friend (Rosario Dawson), her porn producer (Tomas Arana), and her potential boyfriend (Kip Pardue). Told from a female perspective, the new guilt-free voyeuristic sexuality emerging in the rising generation is explored while the young sex star’s world unravels as she tests the boundaries of both herself and those around her.
This Girl’s Life 7.75
eyelights: Juliette Marquis. Rosario Dawson. Tomas Arana. Michael Rapaport. the script.
eyesores: Kip Pardue. James Woods.
“Someone once said to me a long time ago, find something in life you love to do and make that your line of work cause then it doesn’t feel like work to you.”
‘This Girl’s Life’ is a slightly episodic motion picture about Moon, a porn superstar, as she attempts to balance the demands of her professional life with those of her personal life. In it we find a protagonist in transition, from someone entirely happy with her life to one who is unsure of the direction she’d like to be in.
It was written and directed by the cryptically-monikered Ash (who, I just discovered, is actually the cousin of Sacha Baron Cohen!). It’s one of the few motion pictures that he’s directed, and it was made on a rather low budget. Based on the strength of this 2003 effort, I would be willing to explore the rest of his filmography.
What I enjoyed the most about ‘This Girl’s Life’ is that it had a playfulness about it. While the story of a porn star dealing with personal and professional matters could end up grim and/or seedy, Ash kept things light, peppering his script with plenty of wit and enough originality for the proceedings to float by with ease.
In Moon he created a character who, at least in the beginning, was confident, unapologetic, enjoying her career and her life. I loved that and enjoyed that she wasn’t a victim, didn’t have issues, wasn’t forced into this path; it was her choice and she made choices on her terms. I understand that this is fantasy, but I really dug the notion.
Ash balanced even the most dramatic elements with a much-needed joie de vivre, highlighting the notion that even the most challenging circumstances can have another side to them. For example, Moon’s father suffers from Parkinson’s disease but, despite his frustration, continues to revel in storytelling and joking around.
From the start, it is made clear which direction that ‘This Girl’s Life’ will take: we are introduced to Moon via a web camera, as she drives down to her set to have sex with one of a handful of eager men. By talking straight at us, we are immediately given an insider’s look at what her life is like, even made complicit in it.
We are in the presence of a unique individual; her approach to everything is unlike what you’d expect from a celebrity – no attitude, no unreasonable demands, no diva-like behaviour. No, instead, Moon meditates before her session, takes her time to meet each candidate and even treats the eldest, a senior, with the utmost of empathy.
She’s instantly likeable.
She even deals with her personal issues intelligently and with compassion. As her father’s main caregiver, she has to take care of feeding him and even washing up after him when he is unable to go to the bathroom by himself. She is kind and caring with him, never letting the situations frustrate her or humiliate him.
She is also totally honest: while on a blind date, when asked what she does for a living, she immediately tells the guy (played unconvincingly by Kip Pardue) that is a porn actress. Her frankness takes him aback, of course, but she knew very well that she couldn’t hide this from him (at least, not for long), and so she doesn’t.
At one point, she gets asked by a friend to try seducing her fiancé to see if he would be faithful. This is not a new concept, but the way it was approached was terrific because we could see the discomfort in Moon’s face, and yet she took it on as a challenge, almost as a game, buying surveillance gear and making the rules painfully clear to her friend.
I must say though, that while I can see this type of request being made, I found the decision to move ahead with the plan shortsighted because, even though the fiancé had never met Moon before, they would eventually end up in the same social circles – which would ultimately prove awkward and likely put the relationship in jeopardy. Duh.
Well, whatever the two friends’ irrational motivations were, I like that twist to a certain degree because it then inspired Moon into a small business venture, which was to offer this type of service to local women at a cost: she would attempt to seduce boyfriends, lovers, fiancés and husbands to prove their fidelity. Silly, but amusing.
I loved the whole Sexual Investigations Agency angle. I hate the name, but I like the concept. It wasn’t explored that much, wasn’t even fleshed out (one moment she’s a porn star, the other she’s an S.I.A. with an ad in the paper), but I enjoyed that she tried it out. Better developed, it could even make for a great TV series.
Obviously, the key element of the picture is the unbridled magnetism of lead Juliette Marquis, in her first feature role. She certainly understood the part: when Moon was breaking the fourth wall, it was a performance, and when she wasn’t , Marquis was as naturalistic as can be. It’s an excellent touch – especially for a newbie.
She was also incredibly lovely to look at, too – at least when she wasn’t in her porn star get-up, with the wig and all. She has a natural beauty that likely many would dream of, with these amazing, almost feline and extremely expressive, eyes. I can’t believe that she wasn’t pulled up into the Hollywood stratosphere since her debut.
Tomas Arana was excellent as the porn producer. At one moment business-like, at another friendly, cajoling, he can be cold as ice when things didn’t go his way. I don’t know what else he’s been in, but I’d love to see more of him; I bought into his performance the whole way through. Between he and Marquis, we had a solid footing right from the start.
Rosario Dawson was remarkable as her feisty friend, who on the one hand is quick to dismiss men and on the other disapproves of her friend’s career decision. She feels that Moon was always the smartest one and doesn’t understand why she’s doing what she’s doing; she seems to think that it’s beneath her (pun unintended).
Michael Rapaport played it straight, but did it well. What was disturbing was to watch him go from a no-nonsense businessman to a lascivious woman-eater; it was creepy. Then to see his fury unleashed was terrifying. Although he always plays his characters as slightly unintelligent, Rapaport is an excellent actor, entirely convincing.
James Woods, as Moon’s dad, however, left me with mixed feelings. I actually don’t know much about Parkinson’s but his performance grated on my nerves slightly: it felt like a performance; it was not realistic. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but he reminded me of someone else… was it Vincent Price by way of Marlon Brando? Who knows…
Again, perhaps he was spot on and I simply don’t know any better. But he bothered me.
Some of the secondary characters and bit parts were populated with less skilled actors. Given that ‘This Girl’s Life’ is an indie production, no doubt made on very little money (case-in-point, the lackluster folk music!), I was able to forgive this flaw. But it’s too bad because, on the whole, this would otherwise have been a rock solid film, performance-wise.
The picture also tends to lose its focus a bit towards the end, as our heroine loses her own sense of direction. The moment that she had to face the impact of her S.I.A. encounters, and when she got an AIDS scare, she tailspinned for a bit. That was less interesting because what made her strong and dynamic was shaken. Marquis pulled it off, but the character suffered nonetheless.
One of the key elements of ‘This Girl’s Life’ is that, unlike ‘About Cherry‘, it gets you to care about the characters; we like and/or identify with some of them and actually enjoy spending time with them. From the moment that Moon talked at the camera, spoke to us directly, we were hooked – an instant connection was made and we wanted to know more about her.
That was my greatest surprise: I simply didn’t expect for this motion picture to connect with me in any way. But, for all its flaws, it did one major thing right: it got me to empathize with its characters, to actually give a hoot about them. Hey, I know that it’s not a masterpiece by any standard, but it’s relatively entertaining, clever and witty.
“My favourite position is 68. That’s where you go down on me and I owe you one”
I dig ‘This Girl’s Life’.
Date of viewing: August 1, 2013