Still from ' Bad Girl'
Still from ‘ Bad Girl’

This enthralling, original film received an enthusiastic response at the recent Mardi Gras Film Festival in Sydney.

In its exploration of the meaning of family and identity, it pits two teenage girls against each other, and the results are unpredictable, occasionally quite frightening and very entertaining.

Amy (Sara West) is on probation after trashing the home she shared with her adoptive parents in a drug-fuelled craze. The family is relocating to a more remote area in Western Australia, hoping to remove their troubled daughter from some of her temptations.

Soon after they arrive, they meet Chloe (Samara Weaving), the teenage daughter of neighbours. She appears to be everything Amy isn’t – confident, mature and balanced – and a friendship between the girls is encouraged, as Amy’s parents see the potential for Chloe to be a good influence on their wayward daughter. At first, their connection appears natural and innocent, but the friendship soon changes, as Chloe seduces Amy with her guile and self-assurance.

Not only do they begin a sexual relationship, Amy also begins to trust Chloe enough to allow her to help her search for her biological parents. To Amy’s surprise, her blood family is quickly found, and Chloe sets up a meeting with them at a local motel. When they fail to show up, Amy is distraught, but Chloe urges her not to lose hope.

Bad Girl is the debut feature film for director/writer Fin Edquist and it began its lengthy gestation in 2005. Beset with funding issues and interrupted by other projects, the plot went through various changes until filming finally took place around Perth in August 2015.

Many of the cast and crew were young and inexperienced, and this has brought a freshness and energy to the film that is very appealing. It also looks polished, with the cinematography belying its low budget. Similarly, the compelling score, by composer Warren Ellis, who worked with Nick Cave over the past two decades, contributes significantly to the film.

While the story has some unlikely elements, as a whole it is believable and engrossing. The two leads are very convincing, and there is real chemistry in their relationship. When a betrayal occurs it is all the more confronting, because we were so sure of their mutual affection.

Impossible to describe with just one label, Bad Girl is a thriller, a satire, a tale of lesbian love and an exploration of the nature of families. Its cinematic release is limited at this stage, but keep an eye out for this little gem, as it is definitely worth watching.