The highly "Girls" like film "Surviving Me: The 9 Circles of Sophie," which enjoyed a recent world premiere at the Hollywood Film Festival, cleverly combines the harsh realities of being a young modern woman with Dante's "Inferno." Our titular heroine does descend through all nine circles of Hell and is suitably "wiser" for the experience. Suffice it to say that Sophie often does not make the best choice regarding her life.
The following YouTube clip of the "Sophie" trailer is notable for accurately conveying the spirit and themes of the film. The sensuality, college vibe, humor, and increasing drama aptly receive equal prominence.
The filmed-on-location tale of titular Washington, D.C. poetry major begins with commencing her friendship with the bolder Kiera, whose very active sexuality is primarily hetero but flirts with homo. This character, whom "Sophie" writer/director Leah Yananton plays with terrific enthusiasm and equally wonderful humor, makes a very symbolic entrance in taking an uninvited bite of Sophie's apple within seconds of their first encounter. Whether Kiera later takes the cherry of Sophie partially propels the plot.
The more overt sexual aspects of "Sophie" begin with tame intercourse with hilariously inept friend/classmate Jimmy. The coupling between that boy and our heroine is more out of kindness than love. Unfortunately, the poor dope has difficulty accepting the limits regarding the underlying relationship.
These two worlds awesomely collide in a scene in which Kiera brings her latest (very adorable) boy toy into the dorm room of Jimmy while Sophie is visiting; having another young man with a history with Kiera come on the scene (no pun intended) makes things even more exciting. All this is especially so in the context of the eagerness of Kiera to figuratively (if not literally) show Jimmy the ropes regarding how to be a good lover.
Other conflict comes in the form of Sophie being a virtually starving scholar who is estranged from her mother. A particularly effective scene has Sophie learning that her meal plan account is depleted. Having Kiera offer a tossed salad is almost as symbolic as the aforementioned scene with the apple.
The well-presented cliches continue with Sophie developing a close relationship with her poetry professor and his wife. These are among the best scenes in the film, and anyone with a history of a rough college housing situation can relate to Sophie commenting that a starving college student would love to rent an empty bedroom at the home of the professor.
The film aptly reaches a climax (no pun intended) near the end; Sophie finds herself in an isolated setting with the wife of the professor. This requires that the younger woman face the harsh realities that most of us learn during the same period in our lives.
Each actor relating to his or her character and the folks who find themselves in the life (if not the bed) of Sophie generally not finding their interaction with her especially life-changing make the film a realistic story with a clever concept.
The more overall success of "Sophie" is comparable to well-done productions that set Shakespearean productions in the modern world. Both that author and Dante address issues that are as relevant today as they are in the period in which they are written.
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