One Indelible Scene: When a Girl Takes the Wheel in ‘Licorice Pizza’

Alana and Greg take Jon to a close-by fuel station, the place the sounds of the tune “Indian Reservation” fill the air. Which will clarify why Jon, nonetheless puffed up, yells out “Chumash territory!” as he makes for a pump, tossing the fuel can at a startled buyer. (I believe that Anderson can also be having enjoyable: Peters is a component Cherokee.) Again within the truck, Gary tells Alana to go: “Reverse, reverse, reverse.” Freed of their bizarre interloper, they giggle and smile, and drive again to Jon’s ready Ferrari. They cease, Gary will get out and proceeds to vandalize the automobile, smashing its home windows. Anderson makes use of close-ups strategically, so it’s instructive when he deploys them, which he does right here, pushing in on Gary’s smiling face till it fills the body.

Like so a lot of Gary’s triumphs, this one is short-lived. The truck shudders and dies, and Alana, wanting on the gauge, realizes they’re out of fuel. One of many story’s backdrop particulars is the 1973 oil disaster, which proves disastrous for Gary and Alana’s enterprise. Water beds are fabricated from petroleum-based vinyl; extra urgently, they should transfer merch. That evening, additionally they want to maneuver. And so, after ordering Gary to get out and push, Alana — initially in reverse, like a trucker Ginger Rogers — steers this behemoth into the ultimate motion, brilliantly coasting it down a collection of inky, curvy, at instances steeply graded streets. It’s wonderful.

Generally, the journey actually is the vacation spot, whether or not the characters are dashing or crashing. Within the “Quick and Livid” collection, driving is an existential reality: “Life’s easy,” one in all its poets says in “Tokyo Drift.” “You make selections and also you don’t look again.” You simply go, which Alana grasps as she sits behind the wheel. She must make selections. She and Gary are stranded that evening. However they’re caught in different methods, too, and their troubles that night learn like a metaphor for his or her relationship. Jon’s flirtation along with her is a reminder, together with to Gary, that different males discover her fascinating; her dealing with of the truck reveals simply what she will do.

Till the truck sequence, Alana by no means is sensible as a personality even at her most successful. She’s an grownup in a teen film, and her solely actual romantic prospect is a child who’s supremely and legally unsuitable. But she retains hanging out with Gary, drifting and idling. Collectively, they rack up plenty of miles — Alana enters the movie in mid-stride — and one of many essential visible motifs in “Licorice Pizza” is of them working: alone, aspect by aspect or towards one another. But the place are they going? Now, although, as she steers the coasting truck into the Los Angeles evening, taking one terrifying flip after one other, her face centered and fingers certain, Alana offers you a solution. She is precisely the place she must be, in command and in management, with a suitably awed Gary at her aspect. And he or she’s taking him, you and this movie straight to the end.

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