If you love Brooklyn hipsters, you need to see Fort Tilden, a movie that’s set right in the milieu and that opens this week at AMC Grapevine Mills. On the other hand, if you hate Brooklyn hipsters, then Fort Tilden is even more for you, because this movie savages them gleefully enough to delight all you TV watchers who think Girls is too easy on its targets.
The story takes place over one hellish summer day in Williamsburg, when roommates Harper and Allie (Bridey Elliott and Clare McNulty) are hoping to go to the beach. Harper is a none-too-successful artist and Allie is about to join the Peace Corps and work in Liberia. No one believes Allie’s actually going to do it, though, since she can’t even go to the African-American neighborhoods in Brooklyn without getting nervous. The girls — they’re in their mid-20s but have the emotional maturity of preteens — get an invitation from some cute guys at a party to join them at the beach for a day out at Fort Tilden but have a hell of a time getting there, since they’re so dim that they never think to look up the location on Google Maps or text the guys and ask for directions. Harper and Allie think they just know where the place is and consequently wind up losing their bikes, spending $100 for a cab, and then getting lost at the complex.
These two are rancid human beings. Allie turns into a whine machine when she goes a few hours without iced coffee — a funny bit early on results when the girls order a couple at a bodega, to the absolute mystification of the Spanish-speaking staff. She’s still a paragon of good sense compared to Harper, who is basically a total bitch who goes crying to her wealthy father (never seen, but his voice is heard on the phone from India) whenever things get rough and talks trash about anyone who is more successful than she is. The first part of the movie is not as funny as it should be, and our main characters are aggressively dislikable company. (Credit to the actresses for leaning into the dislikability.) Spending time with these two is a deep dive into the very heart of white privilege.
Thankfully, filmmakers Sarah-Violet Bliss and Charles Rogers know this and act on it in the second half of their film. The one time Harper actually tries to be friendly to someone is to an Indian cabdriver (Debargo Sanyal), who is gracious to her until she drops the name of her dad’s company, at which point he throws an insane rage fit and calls her father a crook. When the girls finally get to Fort Tilden, there’s a shouting match between the two friends, who call each other out on being a couple of underachieving, coddled softies. Further events with the guys then force Allie and Harper to confront their own shortcomings. Fort Tilden may not be as easy to warm up to as other recent comedies like the hipster satire While We’re Young or the slacker satire Laggies, and it certainly doesn’t have the star power of those films. Still, seeing these two lost girls brought face to face with their own inadequacies and forced to grow up a little bit makes this a satisfying little film.
Starring Bridey Elliott and Clare McNulty. Written and directed by Sarah-Violet Bliss and Charles Rogers. Rated R.[/box_info]