Revenge tales have been prominent stories throughout history with novels, plays, television series, and films all featuring protagonists seeking vengeance against those that wronged them. Sweet Girl is one of the newest additions to this genre and director Brian Andrew Mendoza explains why he thinks audiences are drawn to revenge stories. Mendoza also explained why he doesn’t necessarily look at these stories as revenge based, but instead the underdog searching for justice.
“Off the top of my head I think probably because you get to live vicariously through knowing that somebody’s taking advantage of somebody else and that person is then going to seek retribution or seek justice from them. And an audience is able to live vicariously through that and something that they might not be able to do regularly that then they find being entertaining to watch. So, I think it’s about the underdog coming out on top.”
In Sweet Girl Jason Momoa’s character, Ray Cooper, is searching for revenge or justice from a major pharmaceutical company after the death of his wife tied to the real life pay to delay agreements. Mendoza talked a bit about how shocking it was to learn about pay to delay when he was researching Big Pharma for Sweet Girl.
“I mean I didn’t know about the pay to delay. That was something that was new to me and how that works with the companies and they’ll actually pay a generic company off to hold it back. And I was astonished that there wasn’t something illegal about that. And it’s just with any big corporation, not just big pharma, but with any big corporation as citizens we have to just be aware that they’re tied to the government, they’re funding, and there’s things going on. There’s good things that are happening and then there are bad things that are happening and pay to delay was one that was definitely a bad thing that happened.”
Although the villainous force in Sweet Girl is the huge pharmaceutical company at the center of the story, the villain that is going up against Ray (Momoa) and Rachel (Merced) directly is Santos. Santos is the main hitman going after the pair throughout Sweet Girl.
Santos could have easily been a one-dimensional bad guy going up against Ray and Rachel, but Mendoza brilliantly adds unexpected layers that create a rich depth in this assassin. Mendoza explained why he wanted to develop Santos and how he was inspired not only by his love of villains, but two iconic antagonists Anton Chigurh from No Country For Old Men and Joker from The Dark Knight.
“I knew from the get go when I came on board to direct that I love villains. My top villain ever is Anton Chigurh from No Country For Old Men and you look at Heath Ledger as the Joker as another iconic one. And they spent time with them developing those characters and so I knew right away that this opposing force this assassin had to be more well-rounded than what you usually see in a movie, because if you don’t that opposing force isn’t going to drive the narrative enough or threaten enough.
And so, I wanted Santos to be this threat that’s looming over Rachel and Cooper, but there’s also a bit of an understanding of where he comes from or why he does it rather than he’s doing it for money or something like that. Which is one of the reasons I love the diner scene a lot is it allows us to explore his character just a little bit more. I mean I could go and do a whole other movie on Santos. I love sort of working with Manu and working with the writers to try to shape that character. So, it had a larger meaning to the film than just this sort of faceless hitman.”
Mendoza manages to make Sweet Girl feel authentic by adding in the real-life elements of Big Pharma including the shockingly legal pay to delay agreements. Mendoza also infuses a depth into a villain that could have easily been flat and one dimensional. All of this adds to the revenge or justice-based story that at its heart is also focused on the father daughter relationship between Ray (Momoa) and Rachel (Merced).
Sweet Girl is an impressive directorial debut for Mendoza and he manages to add layers and complexities to the story that elevate Sweet Girl beyond the classic revenge tale that one might expect.
SWEET GIRL OFFICIAL SYNOPSIS AND TRAILER
Devoted family man Ray Cooper, vows justice against the pharmaceutical company responsible for pulling a potentially life-saving drug from the market just before his wife (Adria Arjona) dies from cancer. But when his search for the truth leads to a deadly encounter that puts Ray and his daughter Rachel (Isabela Merced) in harm’s way, Ray’s mission turns into a quest for vengeance in order to protect the only family he has left.
Sweet Girl is directed by Brian Andrew Mendoza and stars Justin Bartha, Amy Brenneman, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Raza Jaffrey, Lex Scott Davis and Michael Raymond-James. Sweet Girl premieres on Netflix August 20, 2021. Are you going to watch Sweet Girl on Netflix? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or on our social media.