Tribeca Review: “Rid of Me”

If the rest of “Rid of Me” were as good as star Katie O’Grady, it would be a breakout indie hit. Instead, it’s only occasionally cruelly funny, showing plenty of promise, but takes a good half-hour to get going.

Writer-director James Westby makes clear his sensibilties in an opening scene in which we watching a 30-something punk-ish woman sneeringly stalking a buxom blonde fembot through the aisles of a supermarket. When they finally square off, the the predator… well, suffice to say the predator does about as foul a thing as one woman can do to another in public.

Meris (O’Grady) and Mitch Canfield (John Keyser) are a pair of newlyweds roadtripping to his old hometown, where he’s taken a job working for an old high-school buddy. The Canfields are by all appearances a happily married coupe, but when they meet Mitch’s old crew - three other married couples that are a collection of suffocatingly fratty bros and catty shrews - it doesn't bode well for Meris.

Mitch’s old friends put Meris through the ringer, with a clinic in how senselessly mean and racist adults can be, ultimately driving a wedge between the Canfields. Meris is saved from her ensuing spiral of self-pity, by Trudy (Orianna Herman), her hard-drinking colleague who drapes herself in leather, studs and eyeliner. Meris quickly starts aping her new friend’s style and lifestyle.

O’Grady almost singlehandedly carries this film, with a role that takes her from mousy alternative wallflower to angry punk to a happy medium. She’s kinda amazing to watch, she’s got one of those faces, not unlike Kristen Wiig, that she can transform from homely to pretty right before your eyes.

Unfortunately, Westby spends too much time establishing what a bunch of pricks Mitch and his friends are—a fact that is abundantly clear. It’s a shame, because it’s not until Meris gets kicked to the curb that the film really hits its stride, but by then "Rid of Me" is half over.

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