Farah Goes Bang follows a woman in her twenties trying to lose her virginity while on the road with two other women. The site, farahgoesbang.com, describes the Indy film as both hysterical and heartrending.
Indeed, the hysterical moments are littered throughout, as Farah—with the help of her best friends—struggles to become more comfortable with her sexuality. The warm, playful dialogue between the characters made me laugh out loud more than once. The ongoing conversation about how women from different ethnicities experience unwanted body hair inspires some refreshingly funny lines.
As for the heartrending parts, I offer them high praise: it took me over four hours to get through this ninety minute film. More than one scene got me clicking the rewind button, like when the Persian-American hero, Farah, shares a beer with a Korean War veteran in Texas. Whoever wrote that scene is my new dialogue hero.
“What made you want to campaign for John Kerry?” the elderly white man asks the visibly frustrated Farah. In another scene, a younger white Texan throws a cigarette in her face and calls her “towel head,” so you find yourself bracing for the worst as she sits on that porch with an old white man in overalls, just three years after 9/11.
Instead, Farah explains she’s tired; she wants the world to change; she just felt like she had to do something. So, she and her two friends decided to canvas door-to-door for Kerry in the last weeks before the 2004 presidential election. Why John Kerry? She just wants a hero, she explains.
“You’re looking for a hero, huh?” says the old man, wrinkling his brow. His son fought in Kuwait. His daughter just shipped off to Afghanistan.
“Well, I wish you luck,” he continues after a moment, wincing. “It’s hard enough just being a good man. Or a good woman.”
I replayed that scene five times.
But what really made this movie more heartrending than humorous for me, a forty-four year old male living through 2016, are my visceral memories of the disappointing 2004 presidential election. The characters periodically speak lines I remember speaking back then. I admit, my eyes watered over the dramatic irony of knowing the disappointment Farah and her friends are heading for.
At once, I was forced to face my own assumptions about the idea of three women driving cross-country looking to change the world and get laid. As they head out on their adventure, I had to fight my intense concern for these characters. My gut, trained by decades of film, repeatedly assured me one of these young women will be raped and murdered. Throughout the montage of the first long car ride, I felt myself almost disapproving of the entire trip. Then, at the first pit stop for food, as if she’d read my mind, Farah brings up a male-dominated story of a similar vein that has never made me feel that way.
“Have you read this,” she says to her friends, and me, throwing a copy of Jack Kerouac’s On The Road across the table with a look of confusion and disgust. I have read it, and I used to teach it every Summer at Rutgers-Newark. The novel’s women are either wives sitting at home while the men drive around America, or they are the local females that serve as our heroes’ mistresses along the way. All of the women in that story are left behind when the male heroes move on.
So, what’s my problem with three women going on their own version of the adventure depicted in that classic American novel? Farah’s straight-talking friend, KJ, answered my question before I had the chance to intellectualize my way out of it.
“That book,” she said, with the dismissive, jaded laugh I grew to love and hate her character for, “that book is sexist trash.”
Watch Farah Goes Bang on Seed&Spark today.
Charles Bivona teaches, writes, and lives in New Jersey with his favorite cat and his favorite humans. Follow #njpoet on Twitter.