Somersault

Film
FACE TIME Worthington and Cornish see eye to eye.
FACE TIME Worthington and Cornish see eye to eye.

Time Out says

Normally, the gamine-gone-wild genre is considered the sole province of the American indie scene and French cinema; Cate Shortland’s feature debut, however, proves that Australia is perfectly capable of crafting tales about lost Lolitas as well. Heidi (Cornish) is 16 years old, preternaturally nubile and, thanks to an ill-advised attempt at seducing her mother’s boyfriend, without a home. After ending up in a small ski town, Heidi finds a fellow lonely soul in the local mulleted hunk (Worthington). Lodgings and a job quickly follow, but the vixen’s ability to use her sexuality as a form of self-destructive currency continually threatens to land her back at square zero.

A dead ringer for a young Nicole Kidman, Cornish manages to evoke equal parts feral animal and coquette in her performance; her ability to show how Heidi turns her porcelain-doll girlishness into jailbait catnip in order to survive gives the film the majority of its depth. But we’ve still been down this bad-girl road too many times, and Cornish’s bravura turn can’t stave off the predictable narrative twists or Shortland’s ho-hum direction for long. There are only so many predatory come-ons and tear-stained confessions the movie can dish out before its melodrama well runs dry, leaving viewers to simply tick off the clichs (here comes the breaking point; there goes the innocence) until the uplift. Cornish is a minor revelation, but everything else is majorly rote. (Opens Fri; click here for venues.)—David Fear

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