City Girl, The (1984)

City Girl, The (1984)

“You’re just not the girl I thought you were.”

After breaking up with her boyfriend (Joe Mastroianni), a photographer (Laura Harrington) and explores life and love on her own for awhile.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Photographers
  • Strong Females

Before making a new for herself with Valley Girl (1983), director Martha Coolidge directed this earnest but meandering indie flick about an aspiring photographer (Harrington) hoping to — make a name for herself. Harrington’s boyfriend (Mastroianni) is irritated that she’s more interested in her career than him, and is fed up when she acts childishly in front of one of his big clients.

Coolidge seems primarily interested in inverting gender norms by allowing Harrington to unabashedly explore her own goals and interests — including requesting two avid pursuers (Peter Riegert and James Carrington) as sexual partners after a party. (This scene of an attempted but awkwardly thwarted threesome is humorously handled.) The through-line of the film’s narrative ostensibly involves Harrington’s attempt to learn more about a charismatic man seducing young women into his cult, but this thread is insufficiently explored until it reappears for convenient purposes at the end (and it’s disturbing that the villainous target of her inquiry is one of the few Black characters in the mostly White film). Film fanatics who have been faithfully working their way through all the titles in Peary’s book will likely recognize beautiful Harrington from her previous indie film, The Dark End of the Street (1981) — and she has an appealing screen presence:

… but she’s not enough to recommend this as a title worth seeking out.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Some amusing sequences

Must See?
No; though one is only must-see for Coolidge fans.


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