| April 3, 2017

Coming of age stories are always a gamble.  It’s like reviewing horror films.  You know that 90% of them are going to be garbage, but every once in a while you come across something really special.  Unfortunately, Puppylove isn’t very good.  However, it does have an interesting premise that could have been done well if some more care went into the execution of the script.

Puppylove is about a teenage girl named Diane (Solene Rigot), who has an almost scientific-level fascination with sex and losing her own virginity, but every time she has an opportunity to do it, she loses her nerve and becomes frustrated by her own cowardice.  She soon befriends a free-spirited teenage neighbor who has sex with most any guy she meets and begins hauling Diane around to parties and hotel rooms like she’s her pet, hoping to entice her into embracing her more wild side.  While Diane is resistant and sometimes confrontational about feeling pressured to have sex, it remains something she wants to get over with so she doesn’t feel like a pariah among her friends who are having sex and moving forward with their lives.  In the end, she figures out who she wants to be rather than letting other people or society dictate it, which is nice, but the film has many issues along the way.

First, Diane’s character changes in every single scene.  We’ll go from an interesting discussion between her and her father asking if he found her sexy and would want to go to bed with her if he wasn’t her father, to a scene where she’s calling her friend a whore for sleeping around.  At one point, she’s taking a shower at school and decides to walk naked down the hall into the boys locker room where she is very nearly raped, which she apparently knew would happen and did it anyway.  To be clear, I don’t think a woman walking naked anywhere is “asking” to be raped, but Diane seems to go there knowing that’s what’s going to happen to her, taking a “rip the bandaid off” approach to losing her virginity.  This could be an interesting choice for the character if it made sense with anything else we’d seen in the movie, but her arc is often sacrificed for the sake of getting her or her co-star naked.

Finally, as uninteresting as the film is structurally, I have to say the ending is my least favorite part.  I won’t spoil it other than to say the ending is ambiguous and the audience doesn’t know what happens and is meant to fill in what they think happen.  This is nearly impossible to do well and most of the time it feels like this movie, where the writer and director simply had no idea how to end the story, so it just stops.  It’s disappointing most all of the time, and filmmakers need to stop doing it altogether.

Available on DVD from Omnibus Entertainment April 4.

About the Author:

Joe Sanders Joe Sanders is a podcaster, playwright, and college instructor in Kalamazoo, MI. He has a master's degree in playwriting and a bachelor's degree in creative writing from Western Michigan University, where he currently teaches thought and writing, and is the host of the Quote Unquote Guilty podcast, part of the Word Salad Network.
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