The Cast And Director Of SLUT IN A GOOD WAY On Double Standards, Friendship And Bollywood

A look at how the great film came together.

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When you’re a teenage girl, everything is enormous: the world around you, but the world inside you, too. Emotions abound, lust is capita, and you’ll never know friendships so deep or love so painful. That’s true of the world in Slut In a Good Way, Sophie Lorain’s new Quebecois coming-of-age story that feels both of the moment and whimsically timeless.

The film follows Charlotte (Marguerite Bouchard), a teen girl who is devastated when her boyfriend comes out as gay and dumps her. While mourning her failed relationship, Charlotte and her friends Mégane (Romane Denis) and Aube (Rose Adam) get jobs at a local toy store, where Charlotte dries her tears and quickly earns a reputation as a “slut” after sleeping with several coworkers. What follows is a delightful, touching spin on the Greek play Lysistrata, wherein the girls refuse to sleep with the men to level the playing field and combat gender stereotypes. It’s all told with a youthful elegance, and filmed in black and white, a decision that – Lorain told me – was a deliberate choice to make the film everlasting and hard to nail down.

“I wanted the storytelling of this film to be a fable, something that would travel in time,” she said of the choice. Indeed, Slut in a Good Way often feels like a dream, conjuring the same indie spirit as something like The Last Picture Show, another black-and-white teen movie that feels like a memory of youth.

Also unique to the film is its depiction of the relationships between males and females. Though decidedly feminist, it doesn’t talk down to the men to make a lazy point. Instead, the toy store boys – Guillaume (Alex Godbout), Olivier (Vassili Schneider), and Francis (Anthony Therrien) – are never villainized beyond their initial judgment of Charlotte and the pact they make to sleep with her. The film is careful to humanize their stories, and shows the power of masculine and feminine energy working in tandem.

“If the movie was about boys who were really aggressive, I wouldn’t have taken the role,” said Bouchard. “That’s the point of the movie. We don’t have to take the boys down to take the girls up, we just have to take the girls up to be equal.”

That’s part of what makes Slut In a Good Way feel quietly revolutionary. Like Lady Bird and Edge of Seventeen, it feels like a new kind of high school movie. One that highlights the intelligence and budding cultural interests of the girls – who quote Aristophanes and listen to Maria Callas belt Bizet's Carmen Habanera – instead of playing up their looks or interests in fashion. The film always prioritizes the central friend trio, and does away with distractions like adult characters, who are totally absent from the narrative.

“There were a few [adults] in the script originally, but I told [screenwriter Catherine Léger] to get rid of them,” said Lorain. “It’s important for these girls to solve their problems by themselves. It would be adding a moral to this thing, and I didn’t want to do that.”

Adam, who plays the virginal Aube – a part that, like so many things in Slut In a Good Way, eschews stereotypes – spoke to the authenticity of that choice. “Any teenager who’s going to explore their sexuality might listen to the parent, but [they’re] going to try it anyway. We didn’t want a morality figure, someone for the parents to connect with. It’s our turn to speak.”

Charlotte, Mégane, and Aube are often the only ones speaking, about anything and everything. They work out their problems for themselves; at work and in a local park, kicking empty beer cans around as they talk about boys and the future. The bond between the three is the heart and soul of the film, and it shines off the screen. When I asked if the onscreen chemistry translated behind the scenes, Bouchard and Adam shared a long laugh.

“Rose and I, after the movie, got an apartment together,” Bouchard explained. “We are the opposite physically, but there is such love.”

That love hints at the could-be future of the film’s characters, too. Although the film eschews a traditional happy or what-if ending for something that raises Slut In a Good Way from merely a movie about eradicating double standards to something you won’t soon forget. Unlike any North American teen movie that’s ever come before, it ends with a Bollywood dance number.

“The ending was originally very different,” Lorain explained. “I was afraid of the ending and I thought it wasn’t working terribly well.” She eventually stumbled upon a Bollywood Christmas number, and just to experiment, filmed the cast performing the choreography.

“It was one of the most tiring scenes to shoot,” Adam said.

“We were all shocked and a little unsure, but when I saw the movie, I was like, ‘Oh, yes, this works!’” added Bouchard.

Like everything in Slut In a Good Way, there is a scrappy, cleverly distant feeling to the ending – again, with the dream logic – but it adds to the charm and distinctness. Our paths aren’t always clear as we transition from childhood to adulthood, from shopping at the toy store to working there. But youth is eccentric and full of different endings; it’s lovely to have a film that lets it be that strange, untamed beast

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