Mumblecore master Andrew Bujalski has always been preoccupied with the world of work and how it shapes people’s lives. His latest film, Support the Girls, puts an explicitly feminist slant on that topic, using the strange, perfect niche of Hooters-esque sports bars to critique capitalism.
The matriarchal manager of Double Whammies, Lisa (Regina Hall), makes it clear from her opening speech to a group of hopeful trainees that this is not sex work. They’re just working in a family bar where they wear scanty crop tops and cutoffs, and flirt with lonely old men for tips.
Bujalski’s hilarious script is brilliant at picking apart the contradictions and fine lines within this moral code, explaining just where you can touch a customer (arm or hand is fine, but nowhere else – and never squeeze; it gives them the wrong idea). There’s no doubt it’s a minefield, and one that these girls have to negotiate every day. Some of the trainees are oddly enthusiastic, the ‘veterans’ in their twenties still have their spirit, and the oldest girls are palpably sick of this shit.
The entire film takes place during one hellish day at Double Whammies and the ways the male and female cast respond to its various crises say a lot. Lisa (Hall) is patient, understanding and formidable whereas her boss Cubby (James LeGros) is rude, aggressive and unsympathetic. At the end of the day, for him it’s a business that’s (regrettably) run by real people with real problems; for her, it’s a sisterhood that sadly exists within a business.
All these stresses reach boiling point in a fantastic few final scenes led by Hall. Her silent reactions and then her screams show just how toxic and depressing her industry is, far more powerfully than any words.
CAST: Regina Hall, Haley Lu Richardson, Shayna McHayle, Dylan Gelula, James LeGros
DIRECTOR: Andrew Bujalski
WRITER: Andrew Bujalski
SYNOPSIS: The general manager at a highway-side ”sports bar with curves” has her incurable optimism and faith, in her girls, her customers, and herself, tested over the course of a long, strange day.