Rarely are there movies that begin with elements that seem to be clearly derived from other well-known films but end up feeling like a riveting piece of art. One recognizes a pattern straight away when a film starts, and the fun is when the film sets us in a somewhat known world and then goes on to explore the characters honestly. The new film on Netflix, A Very Good Girl, feels very much like a cross between The Devil Wears Prada and Kill Bill, but as time passes, the film immaculately immerses the viewer into the world it’s created and finally culminates becoming a study of revenge. Apart from that, the film’s special feature is its striking symbolism and critique of patriarchy and the internalized misogyny within the feminine experience.
Plot Synopsis: What Happens In The Film?
Mercy walks into ‘Mother’ Molly Suzara’s life as Philo and immediately impresses her by gifting her a phallic-shaped artifact some believed to be representing a deity. Molly wanted to buy the statuette herself, but Philo had already bought it and decided to give it to Molly to gain her attention. Philo then remembered all the injustice she had faced at the hands of Molly when she was a soberly dressed worker in her company. Molly had a chain of malls simply known as ‘Mother Malls,’ and she had become the nation’s beloved ‘mother’ because of the carefully curated PR and a brilliantly close-knit team. When Mercy decided to make Molly pay for what she had done, doing it in a straightforward way would have been too kind to Molly. Mercy wanted revenge of the highest order, which was to make Molly see what an evil person she was. The road to revenge is not a straight one, and Mercy had to become Philo to exact revenge, but she did not know that she would have to do the unthinkable and risk losing herself in the process.
How Did Mercy Infiltrate Molly’s Inner Circle?
There were equally evil, or, let’s say, ignorant, people present in Molly’s team, she was the one who picked them out after all. All of Molly’s image was managed by her team, and they were really good at their job. But Molly was a terrible boss who fired people left, right, and center if they weren’t part of the core team. She saw almost everyone as scum, and her circle was exclusively open to those who matched her standards. Molly was planning on opening a ‘Silver’ franchise of the Mother Malls and had taken funds from various investors. The investors’ wives were naturally invited to Molly’s parties, and Mercy had to find a way to destroy the source of these funds. She began with Molly’s star, Zab Omila, who was the face of the high-end clothing sold in Mother Malls. There were others like Gene and Charles in Molly’s team, but Zab was the most naive, so Mercy aimed to dupe her and make her the ‘entry point’ into Molly’s inner circle. She had already made an impression with her dazzling entry at the sale of the artifact, and she knew that once she got entry into Molly’s inner circle, there was no way to stop her.
If Molly had Zab, Gene, and Charles helping her in her business, apart from the investors, Mercy had a great friend named Karen to help her in her revenge. Karen had her daughter Lovely to look after but she made time to help Mercy execute her plans. She helped distract Zab, and Mercy got a chance to steal her dog, Noriah. Later, Mercy gained Zab’s trust by returning the dog. Mercy got Zab drunk one night, and she blurted out the ‘Paris’ secret, implying she was going to leave Molly and fly to Paris to work for a different brand. Zab didn’t stop at that and mentioned that her father, Minister Omila, was laundering money for Molly because he wanted her to make Zab the star of the nation. Mercy got into Zab’s birthday party and innocently mentioned that Molly must be saying farewell to Zab as she was leaving for Paris.
How Did Mercy Destroy Molly’s Team?
Zab had kept the going to ‘Paris’ part a secret, and Molly was the kind of woman who saw this as a betrayal. This led to an ugly fight, and the investors saw the inherent nastiness in ‘Mother’ Molly. They backed out immediately. Mercy stayed back, consoled Molly in her moment of weakness, and gained her trust. But she had to get her hands dirty as Molly asked her to leak Zab’s sex tape online. Mercy had to be complicit in this to show that she was on Molly’s side no matter what. Zab was just the beginning. Mercy helped Gene get a job abroad, and she was glad to leave Molly’s tyrannical environment. Charles made a rape attempt at Mercy and made her job easier. She blackmailed him into leaking the news of the money laundering, the alternative being going to jail in the sexual assault case. Charles chose the former, but Molly survived as she pinned everything on Charles and got bail herself. But Mercy’s initial victory was that Molly’s business was suffering and her team was gone. She hadn’t yet paid for her crimes done out of ignorance and vanity, and Mercy had to play Philo’s part to such an extent that she started to totally meld into that persona.
How Did Mercy Get Her Revenge?
Mercy had lost her mother when one of Molly’s trucks ran over her. This had happened when she had come to beg Molly to keep Mercy on the job. Years ago, Mercy, who didn’t wear much makeup and had little money to buy expensive clothes, worked in Molly’s company. She was fired on a whim one day, though it was not her fault. Mercy had begged Molly to let her stay, but Molly had no empathy. Mercy’s mother came to beg Molly but was run over, and the gravest crime on Molly’s part was that she didn’t stop to help. Mercy resolved on that day that she would meet her ridiculous standards of appearance, hollow Molly out from the inside, and make her confess after making her lose everything.
As I said, the road to revenge is not straightforward. Mercy, who had planned on collateral damage, had hurt Zab in the process. She had chopped off Charles’ finger while blackmailing him. She had gotten so immersed in her fantasy of revenge that she was willing to go to any lengths. When Molly stopped trusting her as well, she had a delinquent stab her for money. That way, she could make it look like she had saved Molly from getting stabbed. All this was done to gain her trust back. She used the ‘getting drunk’ technique on Molly as well and made her talk about her regrets. Mercy had to reveal something horrible in her life to make Molly reveal something about hers. She told her about how she had pushed her stepmother away and that she had had a miscarriage. Molly then revealed that she regretted not helping a dying woman after she was hit by one of her trucks. She covered her tracks and saved the company from bad PR, and eventually, the case was buried. Mercy knew exactly who she was talking about—her mother. Mercy had recorded this confession on her phone and took it to the police, but they weren’t interested in a random recording of ‘Mother’ Molly. There was still much to do, but Mercy’s plan was halted by the entry of Rigel, Mercy’s stepmother’s child. She was in desperate need of care, and Mercy obliged. The truth was that Molly knew about Mercedes ‘Mercy’ Novela from the day Charles flipped on her. She had sent Rigel as a Trojan horse to destroy Mercy’s life. Rigel did her job perfectly and set Mercy and Karen’s condo on fire. Lovely was injured badly, and Mercy approached Molly to give her some money. Mercy had used all her savings to put on a grand show for Molly’s 50th birthday, unaware that that was exactly what Molly wanted.
Finally, there was a confrontation where Molly made Mercy pleasure her with the phallic-shaped artifact in exchange for money. This can only be read as Molly’s attempt to completely subjugate and humiliate Mercy as a woman. Molly behaved as the owner of the phallic-shaped artifact, symbolizing the patriarchal hat she had worn to defeat Mercy. Rigel appeared later and made out with Molly in front of Mercy, who was on her knees, feeling defeated.
During the ending of A Very Good Girl, rage took over Mercy, as she hadn’t been able to take her revenge as planned. Molly had always maintained that she was an orphan, but her mother was alive. When Mercy went to kill Molly, she found the room where Molly’s mother lay unconscious on a stretcher. Mercy thought she had found a lever to bring Molly on her knees this time, but Molly pushed the broken glass Mercy was holding right into her mother’s neck. Mercy was a murderer now, technically speaking. She had lied, harmed others, and now committed a murder. Molly seemed to have won in this world where there was no ‘good’ person and women had to do things beyond what their morality permitted to succeed. But Mercy had one final rebuttal. She didn’t agree that she was like Molly. Sure, there were probably no ‘good’ people in the world, but only those who wanted to be a little better than they were yesterday. Mercy differed from Molly in her intent. Mercy decided to move, and Molly, who always wanted to have the last word in every fight, came out of her house and was run over by a car. Mercy didn’t look back this time around. Fortunately, Lovely was alive and recuperating, and it seemed to be the season of divine justice for Mercy.