August 4, 1995 in Seven

You Want Trendy? Try ‘Party Girl’

John Anderson Newsday
 

Parker Posey, best known thus far as the despotic high-school senior of “Dazed and Confused” and for drop-in roles as soap sirens and slacker sluts, is going to be big. Ask anyone. Why? Because her screen personality is deliciously split: Exuding vulnerability and disdain in equally generous doses, she is simultaneously adorable and irritating, the human equivalent of a captivating TV commercial.

So what does Parker Posey mean? Perhaps nothing, which would make her the “It” Girl of the ‘90s - “It” being attitude in search of ideas (or even values, to use an oftabused word). But Posey does seem to embody something youthful and ungainly and caught on the fence between ennui and hope. Which also makes her perfect as “Party Girl.”

Daisy von Scherler Mayer’s lighter-than-nitrous-oxide confection starts out as a celebration of downtown hedonism, segues into an old-fashioned redemption fable, and finally laughs up its sleeve, lest anyone take its sincerity seriously. As the archetypically named Mary, Posey is a kind of post-backlash feminist backslider, as well as a born hustler - when her illegal loft party is busted, she tells the Asian-American cop it’s a benefit for the “United Coalition for the Children of Chinatown.”

Between shifts at the local library where she clerks for her ragingly menopausal godmother, Judy (Sasha von Scherler), Mary meets Mustafa (charismatic newcomer Omar Townsend), who in Lebanon was a teacher but on Houston Street sells babaganoush. His erudition sparks something in her, including a revelation: For all her late-night know-how and wide network of acquaintances, she basically knows nothing. So the queen of the clubs becomes a convert to knowledge.

For all its ultrahip accouterments - which include the buoyant supporting cast of Scherler, Guillermo Diaz, Anthony DeSando and Donna Mitchell - “Party Girl” unfolds like the most standard of standard melodramas: Misguided heroine sees error of her ways and turns over new leaf, but then has to contend with the biases and past impressions of the as-yetunconvinced. These include Judy, who fails to recognize the depth of Mary’s bibliographical passion, and Mustafa, who compares her interest in him with “traveling to a foreign country without having to buy an airplane ticket.” But Mary is sincere - as sincere as anything here is supposed to be. Calling “Party Girl” insubstantial, of course, would be like buying a big vat of extracreamy, super-smooth, blended, whipped vanilla pudding and complaining that there aren’t any lumps.

xxxx “Party Girl” Location: Magic Lantern Cinemas Credits: Directed by Daisy von Scherler Mayer, starring Parker Posey, Omar Townsend, Sasha von Scherler and Guillermo Diaz Running time: 1:38 Rating: R


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