Ansiedad (Cierra Ramirez), standing on the bridge between childhood and womanhood, is looking to fast-track the transition. Raised by her over-worked, under-attentive single mother, Grace (Eva Mendes), Ansiedad would like to dispense with her childhood as quickly as possible. So when her English teacher, Ms. Armstrong (Patricia Arquette), begins a unit on adolescent "rites of passage," Ansiedad hits the library to research all the available options for coming of age. She skips over "baptism," "bat and bar mitzvahs," and even "piercings and tattoos" and zeroes in on "loss of virginity." A plan is hatched, and the audience of Girl in Progress is forced to watch—and cajoled to care about—the self-destructive quest that the adults in the film are too self-absorbed to notice.
There is nothing subtle about Ansiedad's plan. She creates a large, illustrated flowchart on her bedroom wall, which she refers to with a professional-grade pointer during a presentation for her best friend, Tavita (Raini Rodriguez). First, she'll establish a baseline of "plucky innocence," by borrowing a pink-streamered bicycle, joining the chess club, and adopting a grandmother from the local care home. Then, she'll develop a bad attitude and the wardrobe to match, get in with the wrong crowd, lose (if she gets lucky with the timing) her adopted grandmother to inevitable death, ditch her homework and her best friend, and find a Bad Boy to "deflower" her. Tavita agrees to support and enable the scheme, provided the part about dumping her is omitted.
The whole undertaking is more "cry-for-help" than subterfuge, of course. But even as Ansiedad informs her mother that she will soon be refusing to wash the dishes as an "early warning sign," Grace ...1
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Girl in Progress
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