Girl on the Edge receives high praise from Sedona Film Fest


Valley Screen and Stage: David Appleford's Film and Theatre Reviews

The 21st Sedona International Film Festival – Girl on The Edge: Special Report

Posted on February 22nd, 2015

It’s Sunday, and already the 2015 Sedona International Film Festival is well under way with an opening night concert and several movie showings already under its belt.

Tonight, for obvious reasons, followers of film will temporarily center their attention not so much on the festival but on the Academy Awards in Hollywood.  Don’t forget, you can share the company of others at Oscar on the Rocks beginning at 6 p.m. at three festival area locations; CLICK HERE for the schedule and locations.  But after this evening, starting tomorrow morning at 9 a.m. it’s back to screenings.

When you’re taken by pleasant surprise at a film festival, for movie buffs the feeling is akin to stumbling across something that unexpectedly glitters in the dark when you weren’t even looking for it.  It becomes strangely personal, as if the discovery is all yours.  One such gem has its Sedona International Film Festival premiere tomorrow, Monday, February 23 at noon.

Girl on the Edge is a new, personal drama from director Jay Silverman based on real events inspired from within Silverman’s own family.  Hannah Green (Taylor Spreitler) has a tragic past and finds herself the subject of an online predator.  “When exactly were you going to tell me about the naked photos on the Internet?” demands dad (Gil Bellows).  Hannah is only fifteen and hardly equipped to handle the emotional pressure.  Not unexpectedly, she reacts in self-destructive ways that eventually leads her parents to send Hannah to a residential treatment center with an unconventional approach to recovery; the Maheo Academy where the bulk of the film occurs.  “Did you have sex with him?” dad wants to know.  “I probably did,” Hannah responds, reflecting back on the night when she drunk too much, “But I can’t remember.”

A film of this nature can only work if there’s a connection felt with the central character.  Make her overly hysterical and destructive and you’ve lost sympathy; the character remains at arms length; plus, as a result, so does the film.

Introducing Taylor Spreitler.  Taylor was a regular on Days of Our Lives then progressed to the cable comedy series Melissa & Joey.  With her cinematically attractive, teenage good looks and coloring, the young performer can’t help but draw your focus, but once there, you can see in her face – particularly in her eyes – she’s lifting a difficult character right off the page and making her all too real.  Taylor straddles that fine line between making Hannah a moody teenager with an often annoying, petulant manner who never listens and that of a likable young woman whose company you would most likely enjoy; someone in whom you feel is actually worth investing your time.

From a sharply observed script from writer Joey Curtis and solid support from a mostly adult cast, including Gil Bellows as dad and Amy Price-Francis as mom, there’s also a comforting, take-charge presence from Peter Coyote as the man who runs the center and an appearance from the sadly missed Elizabeth Pena as Esther, Hannah’s understanding therapist.  “Are you trying to be my friend?” Hannah asks of the therapist.  “Seems like you need one,” Esther replies with a warm smile.  The lonely Hannah looks down as if already hearing the irony of her following statement.  “Last time I checked on Facebook I had over fifteen hundred friends.”  Plus, look for an appearance from Mackenzie Phillips and local Phoenix, Arizona talent, Amy Davidson as Ariel.

The film is also attractive to the eye.  Andrew Russo’s widescreen cinematography nicely frames all scenes throughout, often with long and medium shots allowing audiences the luxury of exploring the screen without the camera dictating what should always be your center of attention.  The film opens in gorgeous black and white which continues in to the beginning of the opening credits, then develops into color by credits’ end.

If you miss tomorrow’s noon performance you can it catch again, Saturday evening, February 28 at 9 p.m.  With a running time of 104 minutes, Girl on the Edge is a festival gem worth discovering for yourself.

CLICK HERE for times and dates on the official 2015 Sedona International Film Festival schedule grid.

CLICK HERE for the Girl on the Edge official website.