Review: Stray Dolls

Olivia DeJonge and Geetanjali Thapa in Stray Dolls

Stray Dolls takes us into the gritty world of runaways and immigrants who barely get by. Two young women team up as life pushes them into crime after crime. The film is streaming on Prime Video.

Stray Dolls comes from first time feature director Sonejuhi Sinha, who co-wrote the script with Charlotte Rabate.

Geetanjali Thapa in Stray Dolls
I don’t want to do anything illegal.

The film opens with Riz (Geetanjali Thapa) getting a job in a motel owned by Una (Cynthia Nixon). Una takes away Riz’s passport with a promise to get her an American one. A perk (if you can call it that) of the job is a place to sleep. Riz is put in a room with Dallas (Olivia DeJonge).

Olivia DeJonge in Stray Dolls
Jimmy and I have a plan. I trust him.

Dallas is a runaway with drug problems. She steals small bits – drugs and other valuables – and gives them to Jimmy (Robert Aramayo) to sell. Her first act as roommate is to force Riz to steal for her, too.

Dallas believes that as soon as they have enough money, she and Jimmy will get out of there. She thinks she and Jimmy are a thing. What she doesn’t know is that Jimmy is Una’s son.

Neither of them had a support system, a fall back to help them function. Dallas dreamed of owning a nail salon. Riz wanted to bring her mom to America to join her.

Dallas convinces Riz to help her and Jimmy rob a school drug cabinet. Afterward, they take many of the drugs, drink a lot, and have a threesome. Riz likes Dallas. In the morning, Riz confesses to Dallas that she used to be in a gang. It turns out she has skills where crime is concerned.

Riz gets protective toward Dallas when handsy men at the motel bother her. Soon they are in serious trouble. They need the money Jimmy owes them, passports, and to get outta Dodge. Things get worse as they grow more desperate. I had visions of Thelma and Louise as they made their getaway, although there was no driving off cliffs.

In one of the film’s most telling scenes, Riz speaks Nepali to her mom on the phone, inside a lighted phone booth surrounded by darkness. She natters on about the American dream while waving a gigantic pistol clutched in bloody fingers.

I thought Stray Dolls was a gritty, realistic, and dangerous thriller. It was brilliantly done. The acting was perfect, the direction was intimate. I wanted these young women, criminals though they were, to somehow succeed at life in spite of the odds against them. Neither of them was honest or trustworthy, but they meant something to each other and cared about each other.

poster for Stray Dolls

Have a look at the trailer.

What do you think? Does this look interesting to you?

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