Sundance London: Never Goin’ Back

Never Goin' Back
Never Goin’ Back
Directed by Augustine Frizzell
Starring Maia Mitchell, Camila Morrone, Kyle Mooney, Aristotle Abraham II, Joel Allen and Ashley Amos

by Joanna Orland

Teenaged girlfriends Angela (Mitchell) and Jessie (Morrone) are highschool dropouts working thankless waitressing jobs just to make rent, living with Jessie’s brother Dustin in a house deep in the heart of Texas. Jessie’s 17th birthday is on the horizon and Angela has bought them a beach vacation to celebrate, using all of their rent money for the month. Angela doesn’t fret as she believes their upcoming waitress shifts should more than cover the loss, not accounting for how much of a degenerate Dustin is. In fact, this film is full of such immoral unlikable people, Angela and Jessie included.

A bit of a scrappy romp, Never Goin’ Back is the story of Angela and Jessie trying to make rent. With no work ethic, very few morals and no self control, these characters are very difficult to empathize with. Nevermind the overt sexualization of two teenage girls. I’m somewhat relieved that the director of the film is female as through a male gaze, this would have been uncomfortably perverted. Coming from a female director it just feels uncomfortably misjudged. There is nothing wrong with sexually empowered female leads, but when they are underage and it’s gratuitous, it is a huge problem.

Tonally uneven, Never Goin’ Back doesn’t seem to quite know if it’s a comedy or a drama, not delivering on either front. The “stunt” casting of SNL cast member Kyle Mooney adds nothing to the humour, merely another despicable grotesque character to not care about. There is not one redeemable character in this entire film, and only one scene made me laugh as Angela and Jessie go to their work to beg for their job back while they’re stoned beyond coherence.

The only redeeming feature of Never Goin’ Back is its soundtrack. The music invigorates some energy into this otherwise flat film; something the directing and lacklustre performances fail to do. Misguided through and through, I will never be goin’ back to Never Goin’ Back.


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