A raucous, feel-good road-trip film with a clever, postmodern edge, “Dirty Girl” follows the travails of teenaged Danielle (Juno Temple) on a cross-America adventure in search of love, family and identity.
Danielle, who’s garnered every naughty moniker imaginable for herself, is loved and hated in equal parts in her conventional small-town for her totally blasé morality. Whether knocking boots with her latest conquest in the high school parking lot or parading through the hallways in killer hot pants, she injects fresh irreverence into the bad girl theme. But after raising her hand in class and offending her teachers and peers one time too many, Danielle is forced into the remedial education program. To her great dismay, she’s paired with overweight outcast Clarke (Jeremy Dozier) for a parenting project, and plummets almost instantly on the social ladder.
Clarke is grappling with his own roster of issues, not least of which is his not-so-latent homosexuality, which his father will never accept. All too familiar with her own feelings of sexual ostracism, Danielle and Clarke strike up an unlikely friendship. When Danielle finds a clue as to the identity of her real father, the two hit the road in search of one dad while attempting to escape another, all the while learning more about who they are and the ultimate value of friendship.
Hilarious performances by Milla Jovovich as a loving but incompetent single mom, and William H. Macy as Danielle’s born-again Christian stepdad, further heighten the film’s winning comedic elements. Danielle’s irreverent appropriation of a promiscuous stereotype has an emboldening feminist resonance and Clarke’s desperate strive for love and self-acceptance carries an emotional and modern punch. [Synopsis by Jane Schoettle/Toronto International Film Festival]