“Never Going Back,” directed by Augustine Frizzell, 1 hour 26 minutes
“Puzzle,” Directed by Marc Turtletaub, 1 hour 43 minutes
This is the year of the women in movies as well as elections. My movie buddy and I caught two better-than-average films this weekend.
Jessie and Angela are two wild teenaged waitresses in “Never Going Back.” Agnes is a straightlaced housewife in “Puzzle.” There are light moments, but neither movie is a comedy. Both of them ring true as comments on the lives of contemporary American women.
Jessie and Angela are parent- and school- free waifs just about to turn 17. They live with Jessie’s older brother. He is a stoner and aspiring drug dealer. He has even less sense than they do. He tries to borrow money from them while they save up to spend a weekend on the faraway beach in Galveston. The movie, takes place in Garland, Texas, next to Dallas.
The viewer would probably respect the young women a lot more if they weren’t such zany outlaws, but he/she would probably care for them less. I worried about them all the way through the film.
I wasn’t worried about Agnes in the other movie, but I was pulling for her. As the film begins, she is taking care of men, her husband and two nearly grown sons. Before that, she took care of her father. “You’re the boss,” she cheerfully tells her husband at one point.
But Agnes has a secret. She’s taken up competitive jig saw puzzling with an exotic man in the big city. Agnes guides herself through big changes, but she is never entirely out of control. One admires her all the way through the film.
Both movies are well done. The music is particularly good, and the acting is outstanding.
For moviegoers who are interested in women as victims and women as rebels, these are two pretty good movies.