If there’s anything I’m certain of, it’s that Drew Barrymore’s Whip It is fucking amazing. I re-watched it again today and I can confirm this from the consistently ‘let’s fuck up the patriarchy and world and small town Texas and shitty boybands’ emotion that I get when the credits roll.
Whilst teen rebellion is a common theme in film, Drew Barrymore (an angel from heaven above) transcends any clichés, centring a young woman, Bliss Cavendar – played by the mighty Ellen Page – who finds herself competing in Austin, Texas (ie the cool part) Roller Derby championships. It doesn’t neglect the classic issues appearing in teen films, such as clashing with your parents and meeting all too perfect man boys, instead playing them out with integrity, charm and humour.
What I love about the film is the respect. Youth, in my opinion, is rarely presented with the maturity and complexities as it genuinely is. Whip It is for sure an exception. Who would’ve guessed humans can be simultaneously vulnerable and bad ass?? Similarly, the female relationships are filled with respect and humour and brutal aggression – qualities nearly never presented with women. The derby gals (as well as the incredible Alia Shawkat) are violent and hilarious and damn powerful. And insanely rude to pretty much all the men of the film. It’s all round refreshing.
By Zoe Brennan
Zoë Brennan lives in Bristol and is at the uncomfortable age of 17. She has never known the true purpose of the umlaut above her E. Her favourite things include kimonos, astronomy and Sweden (although she’s never been). She would do anything for curly hair. Her film favourites include Fight Club, Mulan and Mermaids (she believes Winona Ryder is a way of life). She tweets (quite unincredibly) at@zoebrennanhi
I must catch this one. Good review – I like the point you make about the film respecting youth. Too many films are quick to adopt cheap stereotypes.