In Woodstock Or Bust, you get a film which teeters from being carefree, sometimes juvenile, to tapping into the darkness of the Northwest in 1969.
|Director(s)||Leslie K. Bloom|
|Screenplay By||Leslie K. Bloom|
|Genre(s)||Coming of Age, Drama, Musical|
|Good If You Like||
|Isn’t For You If You||
|Nick||Teddy Van Ee|
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Woodstock or Bust Plot Summary & Review
17-year-old Meryl and Lorian have been performing together for a while now, and Lorian is itching for them to do more than birthday parties or following Meryl’s mother, Sophia. Leading to this idea of heading to Woodstock to make their big break! However, affording to get there, dealing with each other for the multi-day trek, as well as the world outside of their community, the girls learn the dream is much easier to live in than reality. Yet, they persist.
Lorian & Meryl’s Relationship
Lorian and Meryl’s friendship is the driving force of the film. There is a certain chemistry there which makes them seem like sisters, yet also a history which shows that everything isn’t always laughter and performances between the two. There are certain insecurities they bring out in one another, differences in drive, and unresolved issues they have set aside for the sake of the friendship. Many of which they confront as they leave their hometown of Portland, Oregon and venture out east. Thus giving you a decent amount of pro-female relationships yet not cloaking that in the idea that young women don’t sometimes have disagreements.
For those who saw Meg Delacy on The Fosters, singing with co-star David Lambert, we’re treated once more to her vocals, and while there aren’t an exuberant amount of music numbers, each one has a pleasant, dreamy pop vibe. One which not only goes well with the time period but reminds you why these girls are on a journey. Especially as they deal with the kind of drama you may not expect when you are watching them argue about who gets which local boy.
On The Fence
When The Film Shifts From A Road Trip Movie & Then Gets Serious
A handful of times the film burst the protective bubble which surrounds the girls and takes them out of their element. Be it dealing with the death of Martin Luther King Jr., Robert F. Kennedy, or the Vietnam war, as reality hits, there isn’t an easy transition. In fact, there is this awkwardness. For most of the film presents Meryl and Lorian as the 17-year-olds of yore. The kind who don’t really have a worry in the world besides who is kissing who. There isn’t any conversation about college, poverty, or anything of that ilk. So when the tone shifts to something dark, or even when the girls are put in a dangerous situation, it is jarring and not always in the best way.
Which isn’t to say the film doesn’t respect the moment and the seriousness of the topic. It is just the film isn’t rooted in being that kind of film so it seems more like an obligatory nod to the times and how vulnerable the girls are than anything organic.
The Adults Come Off Campy In Nearly All Of Their Performances
The way the adults are in the film, you may feel they have a Disney or Nickelodeon vibe to them. That or, rather than be presented as real people, they are seen through the lens of how Lorian and Meryl see them. Be it Sophia being this overprotective, over the top, and annoying mother, or a woman named Sheelah being this gangster type to Lorian, who is scared of her, yet Meryl seeing someone who is harmless.
This presentation creates a campy vibe to the performances which can sometimes come off as a bit too theatrical, but for some may create a sense of comedy. It all depends on your tolerance.
Woodstock or Bust Overall: Mixed (Divisive)
Woodstock or Bust is a coming of age story which doesn’t present the journey to adulthood as ending thanks to one goal being accomplished or one trip coming to an end. Which, in comparison to its peers, you have to appreciate. However, there is the issue that the challenges the girls face, the awareness of themselves and other people, the world around them even, seems uneven. Causing an awkwardness whenever the film isn’t hyper-focused on the two girls.
But, considering this is Leslie K. Bloom’s first time writing a full-length motion picture, after many years in the industry, you have to appreciate what was delivered. Leading to why the mixed label. While we are able to see the world from Meryl and Lorian’s viewpoints, there is just something about the way they see people, and how those people conflict with their world, or your expectations with their world, that throw things off. So while you’ll definitely enjoy Woodstock or Bust, that isn’t to say there won’t be a few bumps along the way.
Woodstock or Bust Ending Explained & Commentary (with Spoilers)
The girls don’t even make it away from the west coast. Between Meryl wanting to stop all the time, Lorian picking up hitchhikers in her car, then this 15-year-old they pick up named Nick, they get nowhere fast. However, while they don’t make it to Woodstock, they do make it to a local concert in the park at Utah. A place which, as Lorian wanted, gives them a new audience and allows them to expand their fanbase a bit.
Is A Sequel Possible?
Definitely. While they miss Woodstock, there are a bunch of music festivals which came after. Many of which were inspired by the attendance and community vibe Woodstock brought. Heck, a lot also popped up on the west coast so it wouldn’t even require a huge journey for the girls. But they’d definitely would have to grow up a bit.
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