Greetings from the Underground!
A new female-led thriller is out this Friday, and it is one that will have people talking. Asking For It is a story about a young woman named Joey who is the victim of a sexual assault by an old friend. While she struggles to deal with what has happened, she crosses paths with Regina. Regina soon introduces Joey to a group of women that have all suffered some form of major trauma. This group is on a mission to take on the violent frat boys who slip through the system, human traffickers supported by corrupt law enforcement, and the occasional abusive boyfriend or husband. When this group decides to go after an alt-right misogynistic group called the Men’s First Movement, they realize they may be in for their toughest fight yet. But these ladies refuse to back down, even if it means making the ultimate sacrifice.
Asking For It is a pull-no-punches look at the abuse women suffer at the hands of toxic masculinity. Director Eamon O’Rouke gives us an excellently crafted, well thought out screenplay that makes it’s message and motivations very clear.
Kiersey Clemons plays Joey with the perfect balance of anger, sadness, and levity. While she is on board with the group’s purpose, she is also the voice of reason. This causes clashes with the wildest one of the group, Beatrice, played by Vanessa Hudgens with wonderful abandonment. Hudgens is so totally immersed in this role that I didn’t even recognize her. Beatrice has possibly suffered the most trauma and her wild antics are used as a coping mechanism, which you can see every ounce of in her performance.
Regina, played by Alexandra Shipp, is a mentor to Joey and the two characters have a strong connection. Shipp gives nuances to her character, allowing you to know how she is feeling without over exaggeration. I would have liked to see more of Casey Camp-Horinek’s Fala. She is the mother figure of the group. There is weight given to this character though she doesn’t get much screen time. She deserves a movie about her story and much of that is due to how Camp-Horinek plays the role. The entire group of characters have real-world believability due to the talent of the performers.
The head of the MFM is Mark Vanderhill, played by Ezra Miller. He oozes toxic masculinity and reminded me of Tom Cruise’s T.J. Mackey from Magnolia, only ratcheted up to an eleven. There are other people like Morill, played with perfect villainy by David Patrick Kelly. This is one of the scariest characters I have seen recently in a film. While being a human trafficker is enough to make this man a nasty individual, Morill has a confident calmness to him no matter what vile thing he is doing or saying. This is another stand out performance that helps bring the necessary gravity to the character.
Asking For It gives balance to the characters and doesn’t sensationalize what this group of women are doing. It does lighten up in spots but not too much. It does not shy away from making the statement that actions have consequences. There is one scene at the final showdown that surprised me. Where most films would take the easy road, we see one of the characters take full responsibility for what was done and I was not expecting that. There are many moments that buck expectations which is one of the many reasons I enjoyed this movie.
There is no doubt that Asking For It is a smart script that is going to ruffle feathers, as it is meant to do. It is certainly a conversation starter. It shows strong women who are taking back control of their lives and supporting fellow females who need help. If you find yourself offended by the portrayal of the antagonists in this movie, you may want to take a moment to look in the mirror and figure out why. I found it to be a moving and enlightening film: 10 out of 10.