'Slut in a Good Way': Film Review

Courtesy of Amérique Film, Inc
A charismatic ensemble enacts a breezy, not-too-deep take on sexual liberation.
3/29/2019

A high school girl goes on a post-breakup sex spree in Sophie Lorain's comedy.

Not exactly the celebration of female promiscuity its title suggests, Sophie Lorain's Slut in a Good Way looks at a high-school girl's post-breakup year of sleeping around nonjudgmentally, working the backlash it causes into a familiar rom-com template. In her second feature as director, the French-Canadian actress presents a contemporary story in hazy monochrome, an appealing (if hard to explain) decision that may help set the pic apart in its limited theatrical release. The likable unknowns rounding out Lorain's ensemble should benefit from the showcase, which treats nearly everyone, male and female, as an object of attraction.

Marguerite Bouchard's Charlotte has finally learned that Samuel (Alexandre Cabana), her boyfriend of several years, is gay — something that mightn't be quite so devastating if she weren't the sort of person who, as she sees it, becomes too "emotionally dependent" on a partner. So after a long evening of homemade bongs and illicit drinking with best friends Aube (Rose Adam) and Megane (Romane Denis), Charlotte accepts the latter's challenge to have some no-strings rebound sex. For good or ill, she finds a place where the opportunities for such encounters are nearly limitless: a giant toy store staffed by good-looking, friendly older guys.

The three girls apply for jobs at Toy Depot, whose hot stock boys range from tall, nice-guy types (Alex Godbout's Guillaume) to a cupid-lipped, incorrigible flirt named Francis (Anthony Therrien). Charlotte puts up no resistance to the latter's advances, and is rewarded, exclaiming to Megane and Aube, "I felt emotions with Sam. Now I'm having orgasms." When she soon spies Francis putting the exact same moves on another girl, she wastes no energy on indignation or hurt feelings; instead, she moves on to the next boy.

Other young women at Toy Depot explain the store's easy social vibe to the newcomers. The guys here aren't like high school boys; they're vraiment chill. In keeping with the setting's free-floating, no-big-deal sex appeal, Lorain plays down the actual details of Charlotte's ensuing year of sleeping around; she's far less interested in staging a bunch of explicit sex scenes than in showing how far Charlotte has swung to the far end of the monogamy/non-ogamy spectrum. (Finally, the opera-loving kid understands that rebellious Carmen aria she's been listening to for years.) Bouchard doesn't turn Charlotte into a strutting vixen or a cartoon of erotic empowerment; she's just suddenly, as Catherine Leger's script puts it, comfortable in her own skin. Then the other shoe drops.

When Charlotte realizes that her new friends aren't quite as nonjudgmental as she thought, the film flirts with becoming a Quebecois Lysistrata — with a sex strike intended, vaguely, to put the fellas in their place. The conceit doesn't quite take flight. But it's close enough to a plot for Slut to focus on its ensemble's chemistry, and for Charlotte's likable sidekicks to have little moments to themselves. (Wannabe socialist Megane advocates for nonconformity at every opportunity; timid, maybe-virginal Aube is all but invisible to the bookish boy she pines for, but keeps trying.)

The script resolves this and other conflicts in awfully tidy fashion, never letting things get nearly as ugly as slut-shaming ostracization can be in real life. Instead of coming down strongly on either side of its unstated question — should sex be a big deal, or not? — it prefers to brush concerns away. So what if its happy ending feels a lot like the fairy tales that got Charlotte so hung up on romance in the first place?

Production companies: Amerique Film, Martin Paul-Hus
Distributor: Comedy Dynamics
Cast: Marguerite Bouchard, Rose Adam, Romane Denis, Alex Godbout, Anthony Therrien, Vassili Schneider, Alexandre Cabana
Director: Sophie Lorain
Screenwriter: Catherine Leger
Producers: Brian Volk-Weiss, Griffin Gmelich, Anna Roberts
Director of photography: Alexis Durand-Brault
Production designer: Louise-Marie Beauchamp
Costume designer: Odette Gadoury
Editor: Louis-Philippe Rathe
Composer: Dazmo
Casting director: Lucie Robitaille

In French
Rated R, 88 minutes