Set in the small, depressed French seaside town of Lorient, 17 Girls makes a big deal about having been inspired by a true story that took place in the small, depressed American seaside town of Gloucester, Massachusetts, in 2008: Eighteen high-school girls all turned up pregnant at the same time in a supposed "pregnancy pact." One of the girls even appeared on Good Morning America, and the story not surprisingly served as fodder for a Law & Order: Special Victims Unit episode and a Lifetime movie. So what does 17 Girls, the debut feature film from sisters Delphine and Muriel Coulin, add to the "pregnancy pact" canon? A lot of style, but not much substance. Camille (Louise Grinberg), the ringleader of her friendship group, accidentally gets pregnant and suggests that her friends join in the fun. She reasons that there will now be someone who will love each of them forever, that the girls can all live and raise the babies together, that at least they will have done something with their lives, and because . . . you know . . . friendship. At times reminiscent of Sofia Coppola's The Virgin Suicides, 17 Girls relies on pubescent bodies and pouty pink lips to titillate. It never achieves the subtlety or consistency of Coppola's work, but it does have its impressive moments and imagery. Still, we never learn what these girls are thinking or how the vague concept of friendship turns into the hypnotic and life-altering yoke of peer pressure that these girls suffer beneath.
Five of the said 17 girls.
Opens Fri., Sept. 21 at SIFF Cinema Uptown. Not rated. 90 minutes.