Magazine article The Humanist

Just Another Girl on the I.R.T

Magazine article The Humanist

Just Another Girl on the I.R.T

Article excerpt

With the critical and commercial success of Boyz N the Hood, Straight Out of Brooklyn, Juice, New Jack City, and other films made by young black directors reflecting black urban life, films by and about young black women would seem inevitable. (Then again, given the paucity of strong leading characters for women of any race in current films, maybe not.) Hollywood hasn't exactly been champing at the bit - which may be just as well, because the market-obsessed studios probably wouldn't have produced anything as nuanced and honest as Leslie Harris' independent feature, Just Another Girl on the I.R.T.

Chantel (Ariyan Johnson) is a smart, proud Brooklyn teenager with goals. Determined to get out of the projects and into a brownstone, she plans to graduate from high school at the end of her junior year, enter college, and go on to medical school. She gets excellent grades and works part-time at a Manhattan gourmet-food shop.

But Chantel's self-confidence tends toward hubris. Her attitude is as in-your-face as the hip-hop music of the soundtrack. Her principal refuses to let her graduate early because of her arrogant attitude toward her teachers. And her refusal to listen to anyone about anything leads her right into the same traps she wanted to avoid.

Working with a minimal budget (augmented with contributions from Michael Moore, the director of Roger and Me; Nelson George, Village Voice rap-music columnist; and Terry McMillan, author of Waiting to Exhale), first-time writer/producer/director Harris has made a film that plays to your expectations only to overturn them. …

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