Mercy’s Girl, it could have been better

Emily Lape in Mercy's Girl

Mercy’s Girl, written and directed by Emily Lape is a low budget indie from lead actress Emily Lape. It’s amazing she got this film made for $25,000. You can see it’s a story she really wanted to tell.

Much as I wanted Mercy’s Girl to be good with its woman actress, writer, and director, it just didn’t make the grade. Before I get into the reasons why, let me lay out the basic plot.

Mercy (Emily Lape) is a mess. She’s still closeted in her 20s. She’s an alcoholic, jobless, and filled with shame delivered by her family.

 Alison Hixon in Mercy's Girl

Mercy spies Jesse (Alison Hixon) working in a coffee shop. She lurks around Jesse until she finds a chance to ask her out.

Emily Lape and Alison Hixon in Mercy's Girl

They become a couple. Mercy tries to straighten up her act, but a meeting with her mother sends her into another shame spiral and she screws things up in ways that Jesse can’t tolerate.

Sounds like a typical coming out story in many ways. So why didn’t it work? Well, money seems like a big factor to me. There was no sound track, only ambient sounds. The editing felt nonexistent – by that I mean there should have been lots more of it. There were long pauses between each sentence people spoke. No conversation anywhere ever has been that slow. The scenes dragged on too long (such as the party), and some scenes should have been cut entirely (such as the last AA meeting.) Snipping out the dead air would have given the story momentum and more realistic pacing.

Also, trigger warning, there is a scene of sexual violence. It has an influence on the way the story turns out, so it’s a needed scene. But it’s violent.

Emily Lape and the unknown actors who filled out the cast did fine work acting. As a director, Emily Lape has potential. Kudos to her for even getting this work out into the world on the budget she had. I hope there’s a next time for her as a director, and I hope she has the budget to do it right.

The film is on Prime Video, Paramount+ and several other streamers. If you watch this one, I’d love to know what you thought of it.

4 thoughts on “Mercy’s Girl, it could have been better”

  1. You asked why didn’t the movie work? It would take less time and fewer keystrokes to say what did work. In a word, nothing. I watched Mercy’s Girl with very low expectations, but hopeful that I’d find something to appreciate and savor despite its low budget. I didn’t. I can honestly say that not in any experience of equal duration have I uttered as many WTFs as I did while watching this movie.

    From my perch, the movie didn’t work because none of the elements of storytelling were properly executed. The characters were uninteresting and poorly developed. The conflict was cliched and unconvincing; there was no emotional tension at all. The story’s pacing was stalled by shots of the character just sitting, just walking, or just riding the train. Scenes lacked establishing shots, were meaningless and too long. The dialog was bland, lifeless and mostly improvised, it seems. There were even scenes where the camera was focused for almost the entire time on the character not actually talking; or for some unknown reason on the side of the character’s head.

    And yes, that party scene was totally nonsensical and should have been edited out. I’d go a step further and say it shouldn’t have even been shot. I’d go even further and say that it shouldn’t have been written, but there is no evidence that it actually was.

    Throughout, the acting was about what could be expected of a low budget film; but bless them for trying.

    To my mind, money was not the problem with Mercy’s Girl. Everyone involved was just out of their depth. Lape did make another film, however, I am not optimistic. I won’t be watching.

    As for that $25,000 budget, most of it must have come from Dairy Queen. It certainly got a noticeable amount of screen time.

      1. Gwendolyn Lovett

        Not just a Dilly Bar, but a lifetime supply of Dilly Bars! Yeah, I watched the whole thing too. Felt compelled to. Soon as the closing credit flashed on the screen, I was outta there!

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