By Albert Fuentes
“Girl in Progress” struggles to make any progress.
With several direction and writing problems. Main character Ansiedad, played by Cierra Ramirez, goes out of her way to produce many rites of passage in her quest to reach womanhood as fast as she can.
As a smart, responsible student, Ansiedad knows that she wants to be successful in life but doesn’t always get the support she needs. She is fed up with her mother and their repeated moves from city to city. Eva Mendes plays Ansiedad’s single mother, Grace. She works two jobs as a waitress in a seafood restaurant and as a maid for a rich gynecologist (Matthew Modine), who she is involved with even though he is a married man.
The mother and daughter roles here are switched and Ansiedad can’t take any more. There is a scene where Ansiedad is the one telling her mother to ‘turn down the music’, and another where she has to put her mom in bed after coming home from another unsuccessful date night.
At school, English teacher Ms. Armstrong (Patricia Arquette) , introduces the subject of coming-of-age. Ansiedad becomes obsessed with reaching womanhood
There are a few problems with this film. The film itself shows that mothers and daughters can get through anything together, The acting by Mendes, however is not very convincing and she doesn’t bring the role of Grace to life. Though it’s obvious she is playing a struggling single mother. The audience doesn’t get a true glimpse of who she really is. It’s hard to see Mendes play a role where she has to look worn out and exhausted. It just didn’t work.
The direction also felt a bit sloppy. Director Patricia Riggen, also known for her film “Under the Same Moon,” rushed the film. Scenes that were meant to be sentimental were cut short, and we were suddenly in another scene, with another problem. The main problem with this film is the script. Written by Hiram Martinez, the plot has many clichés, and everything becomes too predictable and bland.
It’s also very hard to pin-point a core target audience. It’s not quite a teen film and it’s not quite an adult drama. More than half of the cast are Latin actors, perhaps targeting the Latin community. It can be enjoyed by many, but doesn’t call out to a certain group.
“Girl in Progress” is a great message movie, but it’s not something that might enlighten or encourage anyone. The film doesn’t progress to anything other than a typical, sappy, clichéd ending. “Girl in Progress” has a running time of 1 hour and 30 minutes and is rated PG-13 for mature thematic elements, sexual content including crude references, and drinking- all involving teens.