In Buffaloed, directed by Tanya Wexler, “Peg Dahl” (Zoey Deutch) is the female Wolf of Wall Street. Except instead of taking from the rich via hedge funds, she is collecting debt from the poor. (CPG 2/5)
Peg has always been obsessed with money. Growing up extremely poor and, after losing her dad, watching her mom struggle as a single mother, motivated her to become a hustler. As a child, she researched finance, came up with business plans, and saved as much money as she could.
Peg sees herself on Wall Street in the future and follows a calculated life plan to get there. She even gets into an Ivy league school–an essential piece of her scheme. However, her life changes when she is caught pawning fake sports tickets in an attempt to afford the school. She is thrown in jail and accumulates monstrous debt from legal charges.
Wexler’s film is extremely stylized. At certain moments characters talk to the camera, there are inserted funny flashbacks, or the movie is “paused” to explain a financial concept. In other words, plot and character isn’t the only thing modeled after Wolf of Wall Street. While this style makes the film entertaining and enjoyable, it also comes off as a little cheesy at times. Also, there is a super anticlimactic and unnecessary flash-forward at the beginning of the movie.
One issue I had with the film is that the lead, Peg, never becomes particularly likable and doesn’t seem to learn a lesson, even at the end. There is a moment in the film where you think she might really change, and her mom says to her: “do you even hear yourself?”. But Peg doesn’t seem to hear her mom, much less herself.
This lack of development for Peg creates a bit of a stagnation in the film. The middle section lags a little and nothing really happens. Furthermore, none of the relationships in this film are really flushed out. There is a half-assed romance that doesn’t really make sense and there is a villain who is incredibly one-dimensional.
The film’s political relevance is the best thing about it. The debt in this country is horrendous and needs to be discussed and exposed more through art. Overall, the film has a good heart and is pretty enjoyable to watch. What it lacks in depth is made up for in ideas. And, of course, we love to see a boss female lead!
Review by Carlotta Plys-Garzotto
© Carlotta Plys-Garzotto FF2 Media (2/20/2020)
Does Buffaloed pass the Bechdel-Wallace Test?