Drew Barrymore’s directorial debut is one of my favorite movies of the aughts. Ellen Page is perfectly cast as Bliss, an habitual beauty pageant contestant who suddenly finds herself fascinated with roller derby, and has a thoroughly enjoyable coming-of-age over the course of the movie’s 110 minutes. It’s one of those movies that grips you early on but still manages to get even better as it goes along, thanks in large part to a terrific cast that seem to be having the time of their lives. There are so many stand-out performers that it’s hard to pick a favorite, but if I had to chose I’d say Juliette Lewis: As usual, she’s an electrifying onscreen presence who brings rockstar charisma to her role as Page’s nemesis, and their rivalry leads to some of the movie’s best scenes (including a gripping climax that features some of their best respective work). There’s not much that goes wrong here and there aren’t any scenes that feel overly padded or need trimming: It’s simply a terrific, entertaining and charmingly acted coming-of-age crowd-pleaser whose audience will surely grow over the years.
Rating: ★★★★ (out of 5)