Toe to Toe

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Slutty gilded lily Jesse (Krause) and determined minority Tosha (Martin) are female lacrosse players from opposite sides of the tracks who wend their way through numerous senior-year ups and downs. Their lives have enough drama (vicious bullying, race-baiting rivalries, chlamydia infections) for several seasons of Jersey Shore. The film is best, though, when it simply observes the girls riding the trains, walking the campus or attending go-go musical performances presided over by their semi-shared inamorata (Rasuk) and, in one scene, by The Wire alum Anwan “Slim Charles” Glover.

In light of the strong feel for location (the rich-poor suburban divide outside Washington, D.C.) and the two terrific lead performances, it’s a shame that Toe to Toe adheres so stridently to Indiewood clichés. Writer-director Emily Abt’s aesthetic is retrograde-progressive—most notably in a hysterical guilt-sex montage featuring a POV Jesse-cam screwed by a rainbow coalition of male horndogs—and the story also builds to a ridiculous moment of redemption more suited to an equal-opportunity remake of The Legend of Bagger Vance (in the Obama era, the blacks and the whites absolve each other). But Krause and Martin consistently rise above the material; we’ll hopefully see more of them under better, less Larry Clark–like circumstances.

By: Keith Uhlich

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