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‘Party Girl’ (R)

By Hal Hinson
Washington Post Staff Writer
September 08, 1995

Daisy von Scherler Mayer's spunky "Party Girl" is a classic case of the girl being too hip for the party. Whip-smart and vermicelli-thin, Mary (downtown diva Parker Posey) is a Holly Golightly for the '90s, this year's slave of New York. Surviving mostly on style and cheek, Mary doesn't just know where the action is, she is the action, staging impromptu illegal parties around Manhattan. Wired on being young and up for anything, Mary is where it's at.

According to the movie, though, being where it's at is nowhere at all. And what a downer! So what if Mary doesn't have any real direction in her life; so what if she lifts designer clothes from other people's closets; so what if she lives hand-to-mouth on her meager party-giving profits? She's larger than life, a star, and as Posey portrays her, an antidote to everything that is boring and colorless and square.

When Mary is busted by the cops—for a list of infractions, including selling liquor without a license—she seeks help from her godmother, Judy (Sasha von Scherler), a librarian who views the rambunctious, disorganized Mary as a disaster.

"You're just like your mother," Judy says. "She had no common sense."

Judy doesn't believe that Mary has the kind of mind required for a first-rate librarian. Outraged by this slight, Mary decides to prove her wrong. Plunging into the intricacies of the Dewey Decimal System with the dedication of a monk, she transforms herself into the ultimate librarian. In fact, she becomes a kind of library fascist, shouting down patrons who dare to monkey around with her precious books.

The problem with the film is no one wants to see this vivacious free spirit imprisoned behind a pair of library specs. We were happy to see her flit through her life with her makeshift collection of multicultural buds—Mustafa (Omar Townsend), the Arab street vendor she has a crush on; or Leo (Guillermo Diaz), a record spinner who camps out for one night at her pad and ends up staying for good. But eventually, director von Scherler Mayer and her co-screenwriter, Harry Birckmayer, create a universe that is too constrained and conventional to contain their protagonist. And with Posey giving off her own brand of effortless, boho star appeal, the film's plot fades into the background.

The movie is poppy, clever and more than enjoyable, but Posey is something else altogether. She's a revelation.

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