Harmful Insect

Director: Akihiko Shiota
Year Released: 2001
Rating: 1.5

Teenage girl experiences depression/confusion/disillusionment when a sequence of events goes wrong in her life: her father leaves the family, her mother attempts suicide, several men take a sexual interest in her, and so on, forcing her to abandon her home and life - in other words, the movie works really, really hard to punish her. The director 'jazzes' up the material by regularly cutting in the middle of a scene, playing heavy metal music on the soundtrack for no good reason, using title cards to show the girl's thoughts (some of it is from a diary, some from a science manual ... I think), tossing in seemingly meaningless material in an attempt to offer something original (kids can have tough lives too) and so on - trouble is, it's all so jumbled, aloof and nihilistic, its effectiveness is compromised. At least in Ghost World, several 'ways out' were offered for the heroines - one chose conformity, the other resisted.