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‘What Lies West’ review: Coming of age drama features great chemistry

Into the great wide open

What Lies West is a coming of age drama that tries to do things a little differently. The film follows Nicolette (Nicolette Kaye Ellis) who has just finished college. She takes a summer job watching over a teenager named Chloe (Chloe Moore). The two decide to take a four day hiking trip to change their lives. But will they get back before Chloe’s mom catches them?

As with any coming of age story, identity is important. Early on, it becomes clear that both girls have overprotective mothers. While it is obvious neither knows what they want from life, What Lies West questions whether they have even been given the chance to find out. The ways it is shown can be heavy handed at times, but it also gets the point across. 

Each day, the pair take longer and longer hikes. It is during these moments the bond should develop between the two. The script is a little generic and rushed at times, but the chemistry between Ellis and Moore keeps things afloat. Ultimately, this ends up being the biggest issue. There is an interesting story in What Lies West but the film never fully reaches its potential. Things always seem to leading to something great, but nothing ever gets beyond the strong interactions between Nicolette and Chloe.

What Lies West also shoehorns in a romantic subplot that never really connects. These moments only serve to slow the plot down and do not add depth to the characters. The scenes end up feeling like padding. When the film focuses on the budding relationship, things are at their best. What Lies West deals with female friendships and trying to find oneself in today’s world. The film has its flaws, but its enjoyable.

What Lies West arrives on DVD and VOD May 11

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