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Review: ANTM Champ Stars in Ashley, Takes Strange, Erotic Journey from Milan to Minsk

Ashley poster

Courtesy Ronalds Brothers Films

by YOUR HEAD DYKE IN CHARGE

When I first heard that Nicole Fox, winner of America’s Next Top Model: Special Olympics Petite Cycle, was starring in a movie as a lesbian, I was psyched at the marriage of two of my favorite things. TyTyBaby Productions and gay media, I’m a whore for you both. I would have watched this movie for either one of these things, so I had high hopes for some sort of “sum greater than the parts” magic. I’m sad to report that this was not the case.

I REALLY wanted to like Nicole Fox in this. She was one of the more likeable contestants on past seasons of ANTM. In fact, your Head Fag in Charge and I planned a screenplay around the possibilty that Ms. Fox might try her hand at acting. After watching her in Ashley, however, I think it’s time we rethink our film.

Fox does everything she did well on ANTM, but she doesn’t stretch much beyond posing for the camera. She plays a teenaged lesbian who paints and walks around being a depressed loner. Occasionally she talks to someone like a retarded boy or her therapist, and if not doing that, she’s probably putting cigarettes out on her arm or getting assaulted.

I can’t even tell who painted this – was it Nicole or Ashley?

It seems pretty clear that the filmmakers cast Ms. Fox for her modeling skills alone. Her titular character has barely any lines, but does spend a good amount of the movie looking forlorn and/or staring into space, something she was particularly accomplished at during her winning season of ANTM. At one point, Ashley even stumbles into a photo shoot, finding herself at the center.

ANTM-Cylce13-Winner-Nicole-Fox

We all know who the real star of the Champion’s Photo Shoot is.

The rest of the performances all come off as over-the-top next to Fox’s “model realness.” There is, however, one shining star among the cast. Just as you’re losing interest around the 20 minute mark, up pops MICHAEL MADSEN. (Michael Madsen, what kind of crazy shit do the Ronalds Brothers have on you??)

Madsen, per usual, brings a quiet subtlety to the small roll of Bill, a man that Ashley’s mom brings home for Act II. For a hot minute you wonder if this guy, like the rest of the characters, is going to actually help Ashley instead of hurting her. I think this is what the critics call nuance.

Even acting across from Madsen, Fox manages to blow her feature debut. As a fan of her (midget) modeling, it was disappointing to see/hear her lack of range. The ladies of ANTM don’t often make it any further in their careers, so I had my fingers crossed for this former winner. I can still recommend that fans check out the film, but I warn you that you will likely come away feeling something like this:

So where does Ashley fall among the canon of lesbian films? It definitely lacks the rewatch value of a D.E.B.S. or But I’m a Cheerleader, as well as the authentic lesbian POV of an Angela Robinson or Jamie Babbit. The acting is reaching for Lost and Delirious-level high-teen-drama, but Nicole Fox is no Piper Perabo. There will be no Imagine Me and You to make up for this go round. At best, I’d say Ashley is a Kissing Jessica Stein – you’ll watch it once and be grateful that you put yourself through it, but you won’t recommend it to your friends, and eventually you’ll start to resent the portrayal of every lesbian character in it (especially the panacea-in-the-form-of-an-older-predatory-lesbian lesbian).

So while Ashley is the result of a failed look into whether or not top models can act, it will not stop me from watching future attemps. In fact, if Tyra and Co. want to produce a book trailer real movie, they should start working on their pitch to Allison Harvard. Imagine the (lesbian?) horror film this chick could write, direct and star in:

Finally, <<<SPOILER ALERT!!!>>> yes, you do get to see Nicole Fox’s boobs. You just have to wait until the last shot.

The timing and context are problematic, for sure, but after 90 minutes of Ashley, it’s not much worth thinking about.

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