Talk about not sticking the landing. Netflix’s Sweet Girl, starring Aquaman’s Jason Momoa has been out around a week now and it seems fair that we talk about all the spoilers about this movie, cause it goes places that are both surprising and completely bonkers. Maybe you’ll find that entertaining or maybe you’ll roll the biggest eye roll of 2021. Let’s dive into it.
Sweet Girl is directed by Brian Andrew Mendoza (in his feature debut) and stars Jason Momoa stars as Ray Cooper, a loving husband and father whose world is thrown upside down when his wife dies of cancer. The family, which consists of his wife Amanda and daughter Rachel (Isabela Merced), was promised that a generic version of a drug that could have likely saved his wife, but a big pharma corp bought out the rights for the generic version, preventing the Cooper family from saving their matriarch. Here’s the set up for a fairly simple but functional revenge flick.
Now, in order to really talk about Sweet Girl properly, I have to spoil the ending. Because I’d argue the twist reveal at the end ruins the entire movie. Relatively early on in the movie, Ray and his daughter Rachel witness the assassination of a journalist who had the goods on the company that pulled the generic medicine. Ray tries to fight off the hit man but is stabbed himself and the film cuts to 24-months later, where we see Rachel and Ray living together. Only three quarters into the movie, it’s reveals that Ray actually died of his knife wound and that from the 24-months later title onwards, everything with Ray is actually Rachel but she’s projecting herself in her mind as her dad. It’s a wild twist, but it makes the rest of the movie make less sense.
Some of it is superficial, such as cast members looking up at Momoa’s giant frame instead of petite Rachel’s when speaking to one and other. Characters continue to call her Ray, and sure, she could be projecting that too, but she’s also imagining herself next to her dad which only muddles things further. When Rachel speaks to an officer, as Rachel, she mentions her dad fought in self-defense. But Ray’s passing, on a public platform, is public record and the officer working the case knows that he’s dead, as revealed later in the movie. The hit man also glances at Rachel while having a conversation with Ray, even though there should be no one to glance over to. Rachel speaking about her dad while also being her dad mentally comes off as more of a delusion than anything smart. Conversations between father and daughter appear much more inconsequential thinking back on them as well.
It’s not all bad, as there’s some good acting from Momoa, in Sweet Girl, especially when his wife passes, but this movie takes an otherwise simple and potentially interesting story of family, grief, greed and revenge and tosses it all aside from a generic thriller with one of the most insane twists I’ve seen in recent years. The film would have been much better if it focused on Rachel alone, or as a father daughter duo for real as opposed to her projecting her grief for most of the movie. Considering the film is co-written by Gregg Hurwitz, author of the entertaining Orphax X series, I found the plot to be shockingly average. The film also feels very close to home for fans of Momoa’s work, as Mendozza has served as a producer on the likes of Frontier, Road to Paloma and Braven and a lot of actors from those productions, specifically Frontier (which is a fun series to watch as it puts the focus on Canadian history and tries to make it cool, something that every history book failed to do), also are employed in this movie. It makes the whole thing feel like a personal project, which is neat, but one that gets completely thrown off course thanks to its twist. Not essential viewing in the end.