5.3/10
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14 user 26 critic

Marfa Girl (2012)

Unrated | | Drama | 17 December 2014 (Australia)
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A story centered on a directionless 16-year-old living in Marfa, Texas and his relationships with his girlfriend, his neighbor, his teacher, a newly arrived local artist, and a local Border Patrol officer.

Director:

Larry Clark

Writer:

Larry Clark
1 win. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Adam Mediano ... Adam
Drake Burnette ... Marfa Girl
Jeremy St. James ... Tom
Mary Farley ... Mary
Mercedes Maxwell ... Inez
Indigo Rael ... Donna
Tina Rodriguez ... Tina (as Tina Thérèse)
Jessie Tejada ... Jessie
Richard Covurrubias Richard Covurrubias ... Chachi
Erik Quintana Erik Quintana ... Erik
Lindsay Jones Lindsay Jones ... Miss Jones
Ulysses Lopez ... Ulysses
Jimmy Gonzales ... Oscar
Elizabeth Castro ... Angie
Nathan Stevens Nathan Stevens ... Ty
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Storyline

A story centered on a directionless 16-year-old living in Marfa, Texas and his relationships with his girlfriend, his neighbor, his teacher, a newly arrived local artist, and a local Border Patrol officer.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

17 December 2014 (Australia) See more »

Also Known As:

Девушка из Марфы See more »

Filming Locations:

Marfa, Texas, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$2,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Marfa See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Larry Clark released the film on his website as he was tired of dealing with distributors. See more »

Quotes

Tina: I've always been a singer my entire life, but in my work I just intuitively started using sound in order to help someone move blocked energy in their body but using sound to move it through.
See more »

Connections

Followed by Marfa Girl 2 (2018) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Eh, it's okay.
1 July 2013 | by Bonehead-XLSee all my reviews

Six years is a long hiatus, especially since Larry Clark was popping movies out almost annually for a while. After that much of a break, you'd expect a filmmaker to come back with something new, engaged with different subjects. But then again, this is Larry Clark we're talking about. All of his work is a variation on a theme. "Marfa Girl" takes a few new turns even if it's firmly rooted in the director's obsessions.

The title is somewhat misleading. Yeah, the movie is set in Marfa, Texas. That's not the misleading part. Instead, the movie is actually about a boy, not a girl. Fifteen year old Adam, about to turn sixteen, is the protagonist. He skates, is in a band, occasionally enjoys a pot cigarette, is friends with a sexually liberated young mother, and is currently trying to get into his girlfriend's pants. His mom rehabilitates parrots and is heavily involved in the local spiritualist and art scene. She's friends with a twenty-something artist, the titular Marfa Girl, a young lady who believes in free love and equality of genders. Connecting all the story threads is Tom, a border patrol cop with sadomasochistic fantasies, misogynistic tendencies, and an unhealthy obsession with Adam and his mom.

"Marfa Girl" is edgier then "Wassup Rockers" but is still more gentle then the majority of the director's films. As you'd expect, the film is loosely plotted, rolling from one encounter to another. The pacing is relaxed, instead of belabored. Once again, Clark has successfully put us into these kids' lives. There's not much of a score and what is there is odd, chiptune music. The film is named after its setting because Marfa is a character onto itself. It's clear that the odd mixture of artists, spiritualists, disaffected kids, and border patrol cops that makes up the town was Clark's main inspiration. After watching the film, you feel like you know what a day in the sleepy town must feel like.

As is expected with Clark by this point, among the teenage sex scenes, drugs, and violence, are genuinely touching or intriguing moments. An early moment, when Adam's mom talks with a friend about loosing pets and reincarnation, really impressed me. Though the movie seems to implicitly suggest that the whole conversation is ridiculous, the emotion the moment sums up is true. Another stand-out moment is Adam and the Marfa Girl's discussion about sexism and double standards. This leads to an encounter with two Mexican border patrol cops, starting a heated conversation. Clark continues to do intimate conversation well. The Girl has a revealing conversation with the mellower of the two cops, about his military history. An earlier date with another artist is charmingly awkward. Even the villainous Tom gets a revealing monologue near the end. Surprisingly, the sex scenes, only a few of which involve teenagers, have a gentle, romantic tone to them, making this, perhaps, Clark's first legitimately erotic film.

Adam is your standard Clark protagonist: Obsessed with sex with no clear direction in life. His sweet relationship with his Mom makes him different though. Adam Mediano has a natural charisma as an actor and it's not impossible to see him going on to a real acting career. Drake Burnette as the titular character does very well, being spunky and lovable. She can't make all her heavy dialogue work but the actress is still likable. I didn't care for what happens to her in the last act though. That felt unnecessary. I especially liked Indigo Rael as Adam's friend Donna. She's a complex character, a mother, a teen, and sexually open. Mary Farley is also strong as Adam's mom.

Tom is the most fascinating character in the film. He's a total creep. Aside from needlessly harassing Adam, he makes sexist remarks to a young waitress, tricks a fast food clerk into a date that transforms into a possible sexual assault, and shows Adam's mom disturbing "blue waffle" pictures. For most of the film, he comes off as a thinly developed villain. His eventual acts of violence and sexual assault aren't surprising. Frankly, his admittance of getting turned on by violence is awkwardly presented and Clark falling back on shock value and boners. However, the character's monologue, were he discusses his past and his relationship with his father, are oddly powerful. Jeremy St. James actually gives a fantastic performance, making Tom an ugly creep but also, oddly easy to watch.

The movie concludes with violence. You could say this is lazy. However, the middle section of the movie, which includes a long drug trip in a school gym, drags on. The whole movie sets up this conflict between Adam and Tom. The ending is a fine pay-off to this. The resolution puts a nice emotional bow on the story.

So "Marfa Girl" is about half/half. It's a lot of the same stuff you'd expect from the director by now. Its dreamy tone is sometimes entrancing, sometimes boring. The script is unbalanced between captivating character study and directionless location piece. I both like the town and have no desire to ever visit it. All things considered, it's what I would expect from the director at this point in his career.

Clark released the movie independently as a streaming rental through his website, with no intention of ever releasing it to theaters or home video. He hopes to reach the kids this way. Maybe he will. I don't know what young people will think out of "Marfa Girl." It won't change detractors mind and it could potentially either surprise or bore Clark defenders. Despite it's issues, it's still the filmmaker's best work in years.


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