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The Daily Tar Heel

Slow Plot Knocks `Girlfight' Out of Contention

Despite the movie's slow execution, writer-director Karyn Kumasa, who won the Best Director award at the Sundance Film Festival (I don't know how), makes a decent effort at passionately telling the story of an inner-city girl in search of respect, love and challenge, and finding it in the male-dominated world of boxing.

Kumasa loses track of time and space, however, with her inability to clearly relay other subplots of the story, such as family hardship and budding love.

Most scenes, though refreshing at first, are belabored into dry, dragging inanity.

Interestingly, the film doesn't really celebrate or glorify the sport of boxing, nor is it intended for avid boxing fans. The main focus is the character of Diana Guzman, whose affecting personality is played brilliantly by newcomer Michelle Rodriguez, to whom the film owes its Sundance Grand Jury Prize.

Rodriguez is dynamic as she shows Diana displaying determination and strength, overcoming fear of her belittling father and winning her lover's heart - so engaging that she forces the audience to concern itself more with her character than whether or not she wins her matches.

Her portrayals of Diana's awkwardness, disgust, joviality and pain incite the audience's same, natural sentiments deep down.

Even the performance of her lover, Santiago Douglas, pales in comparison, though his rugged, chiseled looks are deeply striking.

A cigarette, some hair grease, leather jacket and jeans could make this roughneck a close contender for a modern-day James Dean, with his similar nonchalant demeanor and suave rebel appeal, but even he can't detract from the audience's longing to see the closing credits.

Despite Rodriguez's galvanizing performance, "Girlfight" is dealt a significant blow with its stiff dialogue and monotonous flow.

It's really quite a shame that a film with such unique promise in star and sport could be such a tease, ending up in a disappointing pot of familiar mediocrity.

The Arts & Entertainment Editor can be reached at

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