Released 01/24/2014 Rated: PG-13
The more I see from Vanessa Hudgens, the more I absolutely adore her. She has the ability to completely disappear into a dramatic roll that’s just amazing to watch. And this movie is as far as it gets from the bubbly type roles commonly found on the Disney channel. Hudgens plays Agnes/Apple, a runaway who eventually ends up in a shelter for pregnant teens. The film is inspired by the stories of multiple girls who stayed at the shelter created by Kathy DiFiore.
Agnes/Apple and her situation are portrayed so well that it’s almost difficult to watch this movie at times. She goes through so much from the very beginning when she’s trying to get away from her mother who is a drug-addicted prostitute. She tracks down her father whom she’s never met and he tries to help her but his current family is less than willing to help more than tolerate her interruption of their lives. The scene of her back on the street and searching for an unlocked car on the side of the road simply to sleep somewhere out of the cold was a heavy hitter for me. Her mother showing up at the hospital with the social worker trying to get her daughter back is another one. You see two people in pain and you want it to work out for them but at the same time you see the vicious cycle that needs to be broken. No matter which way she turns, this girl is on her own. She turned to family when she needed help, but ended up finding family in a group of strangers.
Agnes/Apple is a very raw character that Hudgens brings to life in the most real way possible. She spent weeks in a shelter with these girls whose collective stories make up Apple’s and lived their lives. She spent time with Kathy and because of this she disappeared completely into Apple who doesn’t feel like a character, she feels like a real person. Rosario Dawson as well had experiences to pull from to make her character as real as possible. This movie doesn’t feel like it was filtered through Hollywood at all. Everyone working on this film did their homework, and it shows.