Just Another Girl On The I.R.T. (1992)

LESLIE HARRIS

Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB

USA, 1992. , . Screenplay by Leslie Harris. Cinematography by . Produced by Leslie Harris, . Music by . Production Design by . Costume Design by . Film Editing by .

makes an exciting debut as the title’s transit passenger, a young woman named Chantel who travels from her Brooklyn project to work in a snooty Manhattan grocery store whose customers give her grief about not having the right overpriced cheese in stock. She looks down on her parents for what she feels are the bad choices that led to their difficult marriage and financial struggle, and sees herself as having more direction than her peers at her high school, where she thinks nothing of interrupting history lessons to instruct her teachers about the cultural biases of their lesson plans. Outspoken, forthright and confident, Chantel is working hard to get good grades in order to follow high school with med school and doesn’t see how anything could get in her way, but she also doesn’t see how her confidence sometimes veers into arrogance, and because of this blindly walks into a situation that threatens all her goals, beginning a relationship with a flashy young man and getting pregnant with his child. Still unable to believe that anything could stop her ambition, she ignores the opportunities she is given to make any responsible choices about her situation, instead ignoring reality until it inevitably comes knocking on her door. Leslie Harris’s debut shows its low budget in the bad sound design, it often feels like the actors are shouting to be heard over the real life surrounding the filming, but the writing is smart and the actors all appealing. There are points at which Johnson’s character’s goes from anti-hero to simply unlikeable, but Harris never loses touch with her protagonist’s wholly sympathetic youthful naivety and Johnson’s performance always keeps us well in mind that we are watching a three dimensional person.

Toronto International Film Festival: 1992

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