Writer-director Ash, who directed the edgy "Bang," in which a desperate young woman impersonates a cop, and "Pups," in which two disaffected teens hold up a bank, returns with "This Girl's Life," a forthright, engaging portrait of a young Internet porn star (Juliette Marquis, in a strong feature debut).
Marquis' curious and sensual Moon enters the porn industry at 18 without much thought but enjoys the work and the pay, which she needs to care for her father (James Woods), who has Parkinson's. Moon sees her work as sexually empowering and in her private life is not above playing the temptress. On the whole, however, she is uncomplicated and unpretentious, until an AIDS scare hits. With an HIV test looming, Moon reflects upon her life and her choices as never before.
As punchy and crisp as Ash's previous pictures but not as convincing, layered or substantial, "This Girl's Life" is also problematic in that Moon seems too smart and well-balanced not to have thought about the risks of unprotected sex. On the plus side, "This Girl's Life" is neither exploitative nor judgmental.
-- Kevin Thomas