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For A Good Time, Call . . .
September 26, 2012
CALGARY, AB, Sep 26, 2012/ Troy Media/ – Finally, a movie that demonstrates quite clearly what’s been missing from mainstream filmmaking; a female friendship movie that does not involve trauma, violence, death, deviance, or fighting over the same man.
For A Good Time, Call . . . is not ‘just’ a chick-flick: it touches on the wide variety of male perceptions about sex and desire as well, as seen from the perspective of the three male characters in the film: the gay, the supportive, and the boringly selfish. Ultimately, however, it is about women and the divergent, paradoxical nature of sex for the modern woman.
The story begins in New York with Lauren (played by Lauren Miller) and Charlie (James Wolk) discussing their relationship which ends with Charlie telling Lauren that he finds her boring and that he’s leaving her. He then heads off to Italy for work and some earthy excitement.
Enter Katie Steele (Ari Graynor), who is having troubles with her rent and needs a roommate. Jesse, a gay friend to both Katie and Lauren since university, (played by Justin Long in a somewhat similar role we’ve seen in He’s Just Not That Into You), sees this mutual need and brings them together.
The two women have a past together, a relationship that had been tense because of their contrasting personalities – Lauren was a bit quiet and certainly not a ‘party girl’ while Katie was on the wild side, loud and wildly flirtatious – which leads them to resist sharing an apartment. But, needs being needs, Lauren moves in with Katie.
Then Lauren is fired from her job in publishing and finds that Katie, perpetually short of money, works on a phone sex line. After her initial shock, Lauren suggests that Katie start her own business, helping her in the enterprise as business manager.
This is where the story starts to change, as the women grow both closer together and as people. Lauren helps out on the phone sex line and becomes more confident in her work and private life, while Katie matures and begins her first real relationship. Their friendship develops into something quite profound and is first expressed by Lauren in that awkward way that people in new relationships do.
But things start to go awry: first, Lauren’s conventional parents are told of how she’s been making her money, and then Katie becomes distraught when Lauren takes her dream job in publishing rather than help the phone sex line business.
Along the way, we meet several of the customers in some unexpected and funny vignettes, mostly of men who reveal the somewhat seedier side of male desires. These male characters, however, are mediated and distant (though phones) and are not the focus of the film.
Even the main male characters in the film, Charlie, Jesse and Sean, are merely supportive, not central to the real meaning of this film. It is really about the limiting dichotomy of the ‘virgin’ and the ‘whore’ that modern women are offered as acceptable social roles. Both women are envious of each other’s life – Katie’s sexual freedom and Lauren’s social respectability.
Balance is reached between the two through the confidence both women get from the phone sex work that they do. Lauren learns to be less uptight about sex and starts to realise that there’s more to sex than the bland and the boring labours of the missionary. She also realises she’s not ‘boring’, but that Charlie and her parents are, enabling her to find self respect, to move with confidence and gain the respect of others. Katie, meanwhile, finds herself starting her first real relationship and learns to open herself to the possibility that someone loves her enough to allow her to share her deep, dark secret.
The film contains a sub-theme here about the successful modern female, which is not about being a man-hater, perpetually angry at the lot of women, or even submissive to social expectations, but rather about the expression of confidence. Both Lauren and Katie become professionally-, economically-, and emotionally-successful women because they become confident in their own sexuality. They are able to express their desires and fears, but also have mature, supportive, and engaging female relationships rather than see other women as rivals. They also learn that they do not deserve disrespectful partners who treat them like dirt, but that they should seek out supportive, respectful, and fun partners to share their lives.
In fact, this film isn’t really about two women, but one woman – or really all women. It tells us about the plight of modern women and the key to their successes in life, work, and play. It is about communication and mediation, centring on the need to tell yourself and others what you really need and want. It shows the paucity of cheap masturbatory thrills and the richness of complete unmediated relationships.
For A Good Time, Call . . . cannot simply be labelled ‘just a chick-flick’ as it is devoid of the trauma and death we find in Beaches, goes beyond the simplistic female relationship in Thelma and Louise, and does not require the egotistical ‘journey’ of ‘I’ in Eat, Pray, Love. It reminds men also that the most sexy thing a woman can be is self confident with her sexuality, and that she should not be reproached with name calling or threatened with sexual assault. There are mature discussions of real relationships and the need we have to express ourselves. These are qualities that are not limited to either gender.
Cast: Ari Graynor, Lauren Miller, and Justin Long
Director: Jamie Travis
Written by: Lauren Miller and Katie Anne Naylor
Running time: 85 minutes
Troy Media Columnist Glenn R. Wilkinson is an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the University of Calgary and teaches in the History Department and the Department of Communication and Culture.
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