SXSW Review: Never Goin’ Back


Don’t confuse these girls with these girls.

Yeah. Those prime-time waitress-chicks don’t know what broke is. Nor do their shenanigans really compare to those found in Never Goin’ Back. In speaking about the film, before and after the screening, Director Augustine Frizzell repeatedly referenced how this part of the movie was based on her own life. That was her, barely scraping by, making the wrong decisions. And, that firsthand knowledge, that age-old writing what you know philosophy, is discernible early. It’s not perfect, but it’s self-aware enough to get most of it right.

Never Goin’ Back
Director: Augustine Frizzell
Rated: NR
Release Date: March 10, 2018

Spoiler: Nicholas Cage doesn’t pay for a tip with a winning lottery ticket. For our two waitresses Angela and Jessie (Maia Mitchell, Camilla Morrone), there’s no happy ending like that. Their grand dream isn’t to get rich or die trying. It’s merely to take a vacation and get to a beach. Sounds easy enough, right? Wrong. When you’re broke like these girls are broke, and you associate with the sorts they do, there’s no interrupting reality.

There’s real chemistry between besties Angela and Jessie, and the pileup of shit going wrong just makes you shake your head. For every second chance or extra opportunity to get things together just enough to spend a weekend at the beach, there’s another twist of fate that takes or irresponsibly responsible heroins one step farther away from their goal.

When characters begin to make the most harebrained sorts of decisions to come up with quick cash, it’s nearly unbelievable. Nearly, until you consider all varieties of local idiots you’ve ever seen on local news robbing convenience stores or 7/11s. People do think these plans will actually work. Why do people rob convenience stores? I think the name is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Anyway, it seems to be a restaurant of some variety in Summer ’03–no doubt, takeout, again, self-fulfilling.

Frizzell does have fun with conventions, twisting fate just enough to provide the girls with a happy ending of sorts. She explained this by describing that she knew she didn’t want the movie to end with Angela and Jessie still in the same place they started. It is a dose of reality, but a triumphant one.

The interactions between girls, and a crew of jokers made up of one of their brothers and two friends is perhaps the most memorable part of the film. It’s always playful, and the humor nearly always lands on the mark. But really, it’s that close girlfriend portrayal between waitress roommates that succeeds best, fitting, as this relationship carries the film. Never Goin’ Back is unique enough to succeed. You probably won’t have seen something both so sardonic and utterly serious about two people with just enough to get by trying desperately to have one good weekend.