A Girl in Progress Not Getting Anywhere

Cierra Ramierez and Eva Mendes

With the arrival of a catastrophic bore called A Girl in Progress, the rest of the week’s disasters start to look like Citizen Kane. It is hard to tell what kind of demographic this ponderous trifle is aimed at. My guess is Latino teenagers who collect charm bracelets and watch after-school specials. Since that does not include any potential audience members I know, I’ll make it brief.

Directed at the pace of a mollusk on drugs by Patricia Riggen, the nonstory concerns an immigrant single mom named Grace (the usually sexy, vivacious Eva Mendes, turned miraculously dowdy) who juggles bills, stress, the challenge of raising a teenage daughter, a going-nowhere job as a waitress in a Seattle seafood dump called Emilio’s Crab Shack and an affair with a married gynecologist (another wasted role for poor Matthew Modine, who deserves better assignments). Grace’s teenage daughter (Cierra Ramirez), for reasons known only to screenwriter Hiram Martinez, is named Ansiedad, which I think translates to “anxiety.” (Latin linguists more fluent than I will undoubtedly correct me.) Fueled by the coming-of-age books she’s reading in school, the imaginative teen hops on a bus to adultsville, promising to hang out with bad girls, lose her virginity with bad boys and possibly, if time allows, get into narcotics. Looking for candidates who might recognize her potential, she seeks out the hottest stud with the worst reputation in school, who turns out to be a secret wimp with secret old-fashioned values. The problem is, the only potential she demonstrates is the potential for being the subject of a corny, overwritten movie made by a director with nothing to say. Grace left home to get away from her mother at an early age. Now her daughter wants to do the same thing. The movie’s naive resolve is for both of them to learn, through trial and error, to act their own age.

The monotony is stupefying.


Running time 90 minutes
Written by Hiram Martinez
Directed by Patricia Riggen
Starring Eva Mendes, Cierra Ramirez and Patricia Arquette

A Girl in Progress Not Getting Anywhere