Sweet Girl is a new kind of David and Goliath tale
The David in question: Jason Momoa
You’re reading Now Streaming, a weekly newsletter from Michael Sun, full of what to watch, read, and consume this weekend. It’s part of Netflix Pause, a publication that’s all about hitting pause to reflect on the latest film and TV. Subscribe now to get three free newsletters in your inbox every week diving into screen culture.
Some sad news: this is my last issue of Now Streaming here at Netflix Pause! As Nelly Furtado said: all good things come to an end. (She also said Maneater, something I wish I was but unfortunately am not.) It’s been the ride of a lifetime getting to dig into some of our favourite releases together, and I’m very thrilled to be passing you into the hands of familiar face and Netflix Pause contributorJared Richards, who will be taking the reins next Friday. I still have one more Scene & Heard up my sleeve, but after that, it’s all Jared.
We’re going out with a bang this week — quite literally, in this Jason Momoa action thriller:
Taking down the man is a time-honoured narrative on screen. It’s the classic David and Goliath tale; the lemon emerging victorious from a knife fight with a moneyed, monstrous mega-corporation. It’s a battered Edward Norton blowing up banks to the tune of the Pixies (apologies for linking out to a scene your first college boyfriend has already made you watch 80+ times). It’s a manic, new-agey Laura Dern desperate to expose her horrible bosses in Mike White’s cult series Enlightened. It’s DIY hacker collectives in Mr. Robot; it’s Harrison Ford uncovering a major governmental scandal in The Fugitive; it’s Erin frickin’ Brokovich and her endlessly rotating and ever-iconic wardrobe of leather miniskirts!!!
Another David and Goliath tale: Sweet Girl, though this time round the dichotomy might not be as clear-cut. The proverbial David here is Jason Momoa, famous 6’3” hunk and thirst-inspirer. Goliath is a Big Pharma villain in the shape of a scrawny Martin Shkreli type (I say this with the utmost love since the scrawny villain in question is none other than my childhood crush Justin Bartha of National Treasure and The Hangover fame). David is a big friendly giant, Goliath is the demon twink. Looks can be deceiving!
Jason Momoa plays Ray Cooper, a widowed father whose wife dies after her chances at an experimental cancer therapy are shot down by a greedy pharmaceutical company. Said company has paid off a program that would’ve brought the therapy to the masses for fear of competition — and as a result, Cooper’s late wife was ultimately unable to access life-saving drugs. It’s a technical premise that manifests through both grief and anger: Cooper swears revenge on everyone involved in the bribery, even as his teenage daughter tries to warn him of their own powerlessness against a corrupt system.
And revenge is a dish best served bloody, with a slight smattering of sneaky disguises for good measure. As in Lupin — where tall king Omar Sy glues on a fake moustache and disappears into the crowd like ether — it might seem initially strange that Jason Momoa is able to don a necktie and blend in as a waiter for a shady pharmaceutical fundraiser.
As it turns out, though, that dissonance — between a Hulk of a man and his ability to camouflage so easily — isn’t so jarring after all. To say any more would be to spoil this movie’s third act, but just know it contains an ingenious — and shocking — level of twistiness that Shyamalan himself would be proud of. As both father and daughter dig further into the shady mechanics of Big Pharma, they excavate a web of conspiracies which have lured government officials, a myriad of company executives, and investigative journalists into its midst. Call it Spotlight on crack: each source unveils a new mystery; every discovery begets another, like an infinitely deep black hole with no exit. Who actually is Goliath here? And can we really trust David either?
Throughout it all, there’s a level of adrenaline sure to sate any action fan: enough bombastic, heist-y sequences to rival last year’s Extraction, and a few gnarly, inventive deaths on top, because you don’t get to topple Big Pharma without a body count. As Momoa says in the New York Times: “I kind of am bummed about...the respect action gets. People absolutely love it, and it’s not respected.” Put some respect on his name by watching Sweet Girl, which is streaming tonight.
Watch these too:
Beckett, another thriller about a small guy entangled in a government conspiracy with an equally charming leading man: John David Washington.
Russell Crowe vehicle The Next Three Days, a movie I — like every other movie released between 2008 and 2012 — watched far too young with my parents in cinemas, leading to a very incorrect understanding of what the titular three days referred to. They are, in fact, the length of time Russell Crowe has to break his wife, who has been framed for murder by an unfair judicial system, out of jail. Like Sweet Girl, there’s the heady, gripping suspense of the mistreated battling odds stacked against them. And also Russell’s is the only voice in Hollywood as deep as Jason Momoa’s.
Jennifer Lopez classic Enough AKA the J-Lo boxing movie. As the title implies, she’s had enough of her abusive husband, and steals away with her daughter, only to be relentlessly pursued by this ghastly, villainous ex. Sticking to the man, in this case, means sticking it to a very literal man via punches and roundhouse kicks.
ICYMI, this is a new section to replace the artist formerly known as Close All Tabs. Mwah!
The internet can’t stop talking about:
This Kissing Booth timeline, which I desperately needed prior to watching the last instalment. There are more twists in this bad boy than a pretzel (so, at least five twists), so please hit the books before diving in.
And on that note, this very accurate experience of explaining The Kissing Booth to anyone who has not yet watched
This meme, because apparently some of y’all wanted more action from the titular Kissing Booth itself…
This interview in the New York Times (!) with Kissing Booth star Joey King on how her own growth as an actor has mirrored the evolution of her character. “I never thought I was going to change as a person, and I was so wrong,” she says. “That’s the beauty of being young. My perspective on life changed — my perspective on family, on relationships, on career. So that’s why...I feel like I’ve really gone through so much with Elle.”
This Refinery29 review, this RogerEbert.com review, and this A. V. Club review, all of which dissect the very Lynchian overtones of Brand New Cherry Flavor, with a few shades of Cronenberg thrown in for good measure. It’s noir-ish, it’s ‘90s Hollywood, it’s witches and shady parties, it’s go girl give us everything!
Finally, this trailer for The Chair, a reminder that Sandra Oh still reigns supreme! It premieres tonight on Netflix.
And apropos of nothing, a fun fact:
Tell me your favourite celebrity anagrams below.