The most noticeable alteration made to Some Girl(s) in its transition from stage to screen is Neil LaBute’s addition of the character Reggie (Zoe Kazan), the younger sister to the erstwhile best friend of the play’s nameless writer-protagonist (Adam Brody). Reggie reminds the writer of an aggressive sexual encounter in their youth, one that Brody’s character, at the age of 16, initiated when Reggie was only 12. It’s an aggravating sequence, but its discomfort doesn’t arise from the touchiness of the subject matter, or the performances for that matter. Kazan is a subtle yet energetic performer, and Brody is more than serviceable in an intolerable role, but the entire ordeal feels insincere, a very safe supposition of what such a confrontation could plausibly look and sound like, from a writer who’s prided himself on his proclivity for offense.
This isn’t to say that the rest of Some Girl(s), directed by Daisy von Scherler Mayer, is particularly convincing or emotionally engaging. Built as a string of vignettes involving Brody’s character meeting with his five most influential exes in order to clear the air before his impending nuptials, the film is as visually monotonous as it is narratively limp. Each woman he confronts, from a life-ravaged high school sweetheart (Jennifer Morrison) to a cuckolding professor (Emily Watson) to an abandoned soul mate (Kristen Bell), harbors a grudge against this passive-aggressive prick, who seeks forgiveness through playfulness and charm rather than genuine humility and admission of guilt. Even when his opportunism is uncovered, the filmmakers strive to make him ostensibly harmless as a selfish manipulator.
Like most of LaBute’s work in the field of “emotional terrorism,” Some Girl(s) protests that bad behavior isn’t only good, but also essential to art. The film, however, barely shows the bruises that this behavior causes, softening or dulling their impact with rote cynicism. One need only witness the quiet flirtation that caps the film to know that LaBute’s latest harangue is less about a regretful man struggling with monogamy and his past than it is about a self-pitying tomcat who earns the forgiveness of the filmmakers long before that of any of the women he’s spurned.