CAPSULE: The title tells us that Swedish femme fatale Signe is in trouble, and in trouble she certainly is. She has witnessed a man being killed and now is on the run. The closest friend she can contact is the dude she met at a party five days earlier and has ignored since. She has seen a crime but does not know who might be stalking her. Director Julius Onah gives us a crime story that pays homage to film noir thrillers, but he also works in a few light touches along with the grim. The story is not profound and there are not a lot of puzzle pieces to put together, but it holds the viewer's attention and keeps him anxious to work out the mystery. Rating: high +1 (-4 to +4) or 6/10
August (played by Christopher Short) is an immigrant from Nigeria trying unsuccessfully to make it as a disk jockey in New York City. He needs to find a job soon as he is flat broke and his landlord is setting little ambushes for him. The night we meet him he gets a phone call at 2:36 AM. Signe (Alicja Bachleda) is a girl he met at a party, but then she never called him. Now suddenly she wants urgently to get together with him five days later and in the middle of the night. He remembers his horoscope said that change is coming to his life, so he decides not to turn her down. Common sense tells him he is being played. Common sense is right. Soon he is involved in a situation involving murder, drugs, a missing drug dealer with an avenging brother, fraudulent investments, prostitution, a phone video of a murder, and a mysterious Swedish damsel in distress.
August is trying to make sense of all he finds out, making himself an unlikely and uncomfortable detective. Different people seem to be stalking Signe including Angel (Wilmer Valderrama) who is searching for his brother Jesus and a scary looking thug aptly named Fixer played by Mike Starr. Starr, a popular character actor, has an imposing stature and is frequently used as a henchman or a thug in films like MILLER'S CROSSING. He is one of those character actors the viewer recognizes immediately but never remembers for long.
Bachleda is alluring as Signe, but her voice sounds nothing at all like a Swedish accent. Director Julius Onah seems to have been anxious to work into the plot as many different ethnicities as he could manage. It goes with his short expository lump explaining a short history of ethnic migrations to New York Cody. Jesse Spencer plays Nicholas, the spoiled son of a Bernie-Madoff-like investment swindler. Nicholas is supposed to be at least part Jewish, but has no air of Jewishness about him except for him playing the violin. And even that he does poorly.
THE GIRL IS IN TROUBLE is a spiritual descendent of film noir style films. But at times it departs from its serious style for a few moments of amusement when the director's tongue is planted firmly in his cheek. Early on it introduces a large number of characters who may partake of the plot, but the narrator reassures the audience that this one and that one the viewer need not remember. Onah digresses into a short exposition on when various ethnic groups arrived in New York--again not really necessary for the plot. He also seems to have some fun jumping the narrative forward and backward in time.
It is nice to know that some vestige of film noir is not dead, and even in the 21st century there are still running around femme fatales waiting to seduce and double cross you. I rate THE GIRL IS IN TROUBLE a high +1 on the -4 to +4 scale or 6/10.
Film Credits: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1706625/combined
What others are saying: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/the_girl_is_in_trouble_2012/
Mark R. Leeper Copyright 2015 Mark R. Leeper