Movie Review: ‘WHITE GIRL’ plays like a bad party you can’t leave


Kip Mooney // Film Critic

WHITE GIRL | 88 min | R
Director: Elizabeth Wood
Cast: Morgan Saylor, Brian ‘Sene’ Marc, Justin Bartha and Chris Noth

Have you ever been to a party that just got more and more awful and all you wanted to do was leave? That’s what it’s like to watch WHITE GIRL.

The feature debut of writer-directed Elizabeth Wood tries and fails to balance being harrowing and disarmingly funny, though there are individual scenes that succeed at each.

Morgan Saylor (HOMELAND) plays Leah, the titular white girl, who moves to a new apartment in Queens and spends an incredibly destructive summer getting involved in drug trafficking and an affair with her boss (Justin Bartha). If you cut out the scenes where she’s having sex against a wall or snorting cocaine, this movie would only be about 20 minutes.

Leah falls for her drug dealer Blue (Brian Marc), who gets busted for selling after an all-night party. She then takes over his business to raise enough money for a credible defense attorney. This is where the film could have had an impact, making a point about how poverty traps defendants even if they have a decent defense.

Morgan Saylor and Brian 'Sene' Marc star in WHITE GIRL. Courtesy of FilmRise.

Morgan Saylor and Brian ‘Sene’ Marc star in WHITE GIRL. Courtesy of FilmRise.

But nope, the movie sails right by that so Leah can have an all-night bender/sell-off that proves you can be a terrible drug dealer and still make a ton of money, so long as you’re an attractive woman with drugs. White girl problems, indeed.

As Leah quickly learns, though, it’s not all fun and games. With Blue in jail, his supplier (Adrian Martinez) comes around, torturing Leah to get her assurances that Blue hasn’t ratted him out and he’ll be getting his money. Look, I’m all for actors branching out, but I just can’t buy Martinez, who’s almost exclusively played the funny fat friend in everything, as a menacing villain.

In fact, every man in Leah’s life – Blue excepted – is strictly there to use and abuse her. That might be why she’s so willing to risk life and limb to get him out of jail. Otherwise, I don’t buy that their days-old relationship is solid enough for her to go through hell to save him. Nor do I buy that she’s a true-hearted woman out to right an injustice.

WHITE GIRL feels like it’s supposed to be a cautionary tale, but the only one I can tell you is to avoid watching the film.

WHITE GIRL opens in limited release on Friday.
Dallas: Angelika Dallas

About author

Preston Barta

I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction ( as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.