FilmReview

Film Review: Habit

Reviewer: Maryam Philpott

Writer: Libby Mintz and Janell Shirtcliff

Director: Janell Shirtcliff

Nuns always tend to get quite a bad deal in film; either they are comedy creations whose choices and outfits are the butt of the joke, or they are hysterical women driven mad by their single-sex environment. Libby Mintz and Janell Shirtcliff gives nuns a Tarantino-twist in their film Habit released on digital download which takes the comedy disguise option as a group of night club hostesses hide from a drug dealer.

Living a crazed L.A. lifestyle, confident cool girl Mads lives to party with her friends. With no ties and few cares, she thinks Jesus is making life easier for her. Running low on funds, she agrees to help drug dealer Eric with sales but after a wild night out with best friends Addy and Evie the money is stolen and the girls must hide from the fearsome Queenie.

Habit it a case of style over substance, and even the style feels derivative in a movie that’s so busy being pleased with itself to worry about plot or character development. As a director, Shirtcliff’s focus is on hazy party scenes filled with drug-taking, sex and drinking filmed in a heightened style to give the impression of disorientation and wild excess – if only we hadn’t seen it a hundred times before.

The style does little to support the cartoonish story with comedy villains and characters so shallow that L.A. would be justified in taking umbrage at how it is presented. There’s very little in the story to propel even the slight 75-minute running time particularly with a central character who is both unlikeable and soulless (for someone who spends the entire film talking directly to Jesus), making it hard to support her point of view or that of her empty-headed and hedonistic friends.

There’s something of Clueless or Mean Girls about it but replacing shopping and high-school backbiting with drugs and drink, but it lacks the charm of either, and while Robert Wise’s sugar-pop production design is visually enjoyable, supporting the debauched vision Shirtcliff attempts, the contrasting violence is never particularly threatening and the whole concept feels lacklustre.

Bella Thorne oozes self-belief as Mads and is in fact completely convincing as a young women living from one day to the next. But there is no depth to her character and her belief in Jesus sits uneasily within a performance that focuses on various self-justified addictions. But she carries the film which is lucky because none of Andreja Pejic’s Addy, Libby Mintz’s Evie, Josie Ho’s Queenie or Gavin Rossdale’s Eric can conjure up a complete character between them.

Even if you are not remotely religious, there is something deeply ridiculous about Habit, not least its cliched portrayal of nuns as figures of fun and the tired idea of a ‘hot priest’ easily succumbing to the first pretty girl who leers during the sacrament – Aarón Díaz barely gets a line before his character has cast his calling aside. With none of the fun or respect of Sister Act – which manages its disguise from gangster story with more class – this is one Habit you won’t want to get into.

Habit is released on Digital Download on 22 November.

The Reviews Hub Score:

Derivative

The Reviews Hub - Film

The Reviews Hub Film Team is under the editorship of Maryam Philpott.

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