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Movie Review: Dirty Girl

Dirty Girl

Inventively directed by Jennifer Clary, Dirty Girl is a very short, but extremely powerful film. It combines live-action and claymation to show a young woman dealing with cancer.

The live-action sequences show a young woman lying on a gurney in a darkened room. We never get to see her full face, so she’s in effect a nameless person. She wears one of those cheap hospital gowns, but there are no other operating room accouterments in view. No anesthesia mask, no beeping monitors. There is also a doctor, but of him we only ever get to see his hands. But then the woman’s gown is ripped open, exposing the bare flesh around the most vulnerable, womanly parts of her body.

When she is cut open, the film cuts to claymation sequences of the various cancers being ripped out. I’m a huge claymation fan, so any film that uses this slowly dying art form — thanks to the CGI-ification of the universe — really scores mucho bonus points from me. Plus, the crudeness of the clay cancer “monsters” here only enhance their gross, little ferociousness. That CGI Lamisil toenail monster looks like a cuddly children’s plush doll compared to these vile grotesqueries. They chew and gnaw at the patient’s clay organs with their sharp metal teeth, while spewing pus and God knows what else while snapping at and hiding from the doctor’s removal instruments. In the live-action parts of the film there is some realistic blood and gore, but those visions are nothing compared to the internal horror rendered in clay.

Today’s messages about cancer are always about empowerment. I think the PSA I see on TV all the time now says something like “I have cancer, but cancer doesn’t have me.” The reason for that, I would believe, is that there are a lot of feelings of despair, helplessness and even shame to be overcome after being diagnosed with this awful illness. Clary’s film doesn’t offer slogans or platitudes of encouragement. Here, cancer is presented as an ugly enemy that needs to be eradicated.

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