What was Ellen Page going to do after making such a splash in “Juno“? The 21 year-old actress really had to find material that could advance her career but not look like a “Juno” sequel.
She found it in the film adaptation of Shauna Cross’s book, “Whip It.” The film opened last night in Toronto, with Page taking the kudos for leading a strong cast of woman, as well as Daniel Stern and Landon Pigg, through a Girl Power adventure centered on Roller Derby. First time director Drew Barrymore, who refused to do a standard Q&A after the film, is helped in large part by veteran’cinematographer Robert D. Yeoman and expert film editor Dylan Tichenor. Their contributions cannot be overemphasized, as is this is a movie incredibly dependent on style to make it a hit.
And’a hit it shall be. A chick flick for teen chicks who will dig the empowerment theme. Page’s Bliss and her mom, played by the world class Marcia Gay’Harden, are at odds. Mom wants her to’be Little Miss Sunshine, appearing in talent’and beauty pageants.’Bliss is already going punk, trying to shed $800 custom-made’gowns for’Army boots and blue hair. When she spots some roller girls in Austin, Texas,’a spell is cast. She knows this is her destiny.
Some of’”Whip It” is cliche, especially the stuff with the overbearing 1950s mom in 2009. But Harden is so good that she and Stern ‘ who plays her husband ‘ manage to rise above it all. (They come perilously close to Juno’s parents, from that movie.) In the’end, Page ‘ who did her own skating and stunts ‘ makes it all worthwhile. And Tichenor makes the’roller derby come alive, even when you don’t completely understand what’s going on.