Jason Momoa and Isabela Merced star in Sweet Girl, an action thriller with a psychological twist. The interesting concept employs a war-on-two-fronts plotline, using a retrospective narrative with flash-forwards and flashbacks to tell its story. On their own these are remarkable techniques that can elevate any film, depending on the approach. Unfortunately here, all this is wasted on a monotonous and unnatural script that is heavily reliant on the actors’ performances to truly pique interest and liven up the intrigue.
Momoa is a little robotic in his delivery of the narration. He’s also generally very stiff when trying to emulate the scary anti-hero act, where he is completely overshadowed by his co-worker. It’s strange to see this hulking and intimidating figure, with his rough exterior, bring such awkward and shaky acting. The best parts of his performance are definitely when he appears on screen as a loving father. The dynamic and chemistry between the two actors really sells the emotional core of the piece. Merced, in particular, is a fantastic all-rounder as she hits the right notes in the tense and sentimental scenes.
The action sequences for Sweet Girl are very messy; there are a lot of camera movements and little to no focus. This makes it difficult for viewers to make sense of the events that unfold. Sometimes, the action can be slow – and not with high anticipation to complement the tension, but in a way that is mostly just boring. There are times when it does evoke some sort of excitement or anxiety among the viewers – which is the bare minimum of what any thriller should be able to do – however, these moments are very few and far in between and are mostly contained within the first two acts. After that, most of the action gets tangled up in the trappings of cliché.
The best part of this picture is its soundtrack. While there’s nothing special about the score, the tracklist provides songs that successfully encapsulate the journey of the characters, particularly in emotional sequences. This is especially true for Merced’s character, Rachel Cooper. Sweet Girl even takes notes from James Mangold’s Girl Interrupted with the use of Skeeter Davis’s The End of the World in a calm-before-the-storm sequence. This scene itself is the highlight of the whole film.
Sweet Girl is released on Netflix on 20th August 2021.
Watch the trailer for Sweet Girl here: