Opens: March 22, 1996 | Rated: R
Spike Lee's new movie, "Girl 6," opens with the title character, a nameless struggling actress played by Theresa Randle, at an audition reciting a monologue from "She's Gotta Have It," Lee's signature film.
From that first scene -- a knowing wink to the audience -- to the closing credits, "Girl 6" is the kind of movie film buffs swoon over.
Full of creative cuts and camera work, metaphors and melodious characters, "Girl 6" is a treat of smart film making.
Lee sculpts every scene precisely in his story of a woman growing out of her 20-something aimlessness.
Asked at the opening scene audition to take off her top, Randle's concentration and confidence are shaken and she walks out on the director (Quentin Tarantino in a cameo). Frustrated with endless auditioning and her mainstream job prospects dim, she takes a position as a phone sex girl, which becomes an unusual catalyst for her to begin building self-confidence and self-esteem.
The fact that in real life this job might have the opposite effect doesn't matter. Girl 6, as she is known in the office, looks at it as an opportunity to create characters, to act, without having to face the unaccepting world of the entertainment business.
Lee creates an upscale, probably unrealistic, atmosphere for the phone sex office. Located in a Manhattan skyscraper, it's a complete fantasy image of what working in phone sex might be -- clean and clinical, without a hint of harassment.
To top it off, the girls are sexy club kids, pretty young things from the Midwest or even models (runway star Naomi Campbell plays Girl 75).
The question does arise: Is this fresh and washed image intentional -- to play down the seemlyness of it all -- or is it just aesthetic casting?
But such questions are quickly lost in Lee's talented and deep film making.
He punches up conversations by quickly editing shots from five or six cameras. He employs a parallel storyline of a little girl injured in a fall down an elevator shaft to symbolize the heroine's loss of direction.
By several techniques Lee give his movie different textures -- shooting the phone sex callers on video instead of film and distorting the screen and dollying the camera when Girl 6 feels out of control.
Fantasy is a key element on both sides of the phone in "Girl 6," with Randle playing Carmen Jones, a Blaxploitation movie queen with a monster Afro, and the daughter on "The Jeffersons," in several scenes in which she imagines her dream roles.
Lee is in the film himself, of course, as Girl 6's next door neighbor in whom she confides that she's beginning to enjoy her job. He tells her to snap out of it in no uncertain terms and eventually, under a barrage of advice, she gets back on the acting wagon.
As the film nears the end, characters begin addressing her by her name and it's clear she's found her direction.
Even if it is a little far fetched in spots -- Girl 6 has a wardrobe to die for and an apartment decorated with antiques, but she can't afford her own phone -- this is one of Lee's best comedies, and Randle's best performances.
It's also chock full of cameos, another way to keep film fans smiling. Besides Tarantino and Campbell, look for Richard Belzer, Ron Silver, Madonna, Halle Berry and John Turturro.
©1996 All Rights Reserved.