SCREENED AT THE 2006 SAN FRANCISCO INDEPENDENT FILM FESTIVAL - Taking the message of “too much of a good thing can be bad for you” and thoroughly beating its audience over the head with it, MAD COWGIRL is the tale of one woman’s self-destructive descent into the pleasures of promiscuous sex and a good steak. Although Cowgirl showcases strong technical proficiency and provides a bit of quirky fun at times, director Gregory Hatanaka’s film frequently meanders, throwing a number of under-developed characters into the mix that do little to give the whole thing a sense of narrative consistency.One of Cowgirl’s strengths, however, is Sarah Lassez, who plays a sexy L.A. health inspector (?) named Therese. By day, she goes about to various meat packing plants and butcher shops, including the one run by her brother Thierry (James Duval). By night, she eats dangerous amounts of red meat (and must have the metabolism of a hummingbird on crank to be able to eat so much steak and stay so thin) and enjoys sexual encounters with a number of men – from brother Thierry, to an ex-husband, to televangelist Pastor Dylan (Walter Koenig), and even with a stranger in a seedy movie theater that shows porno on one side of the screen and a kung-fu movie on the other. Though certainly not exclusive with her affections, she harbors a particularly unhealthy obsession for the hapless Pastor Dylan, calling him at all hours of the night and masturbating to his televised sermons.
But things take a particularly nasty turn for Therese when some of the meat from Thierry’s shop is tainted with Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) – otherwise known as (you guessed it!) Mad Cow Disease. This causes a rift with Thierry, who not only disregarded her admonishment to get rid of the suspect meat early on, but even cooked some up for her at dinner one evening!
Thus begins the downward spiral for Therese, as she continues to gorge herself on beef and dangerous sexual encounters, some of which end in violence. She also becomes fixated on an incredibly cheesy kung-fu movie called The Girl with the Thunderbolt Kick, Hatanaka’s movie-within-a-movie that ends up being both the film’s most pointless and most amusing segment – especially since it boasts such villains as “Mo Lester” and “Dirty Ho.”Unfortunately, by the time it all winds down to the closing credits, all but the most patient viewers may find themselves overcome with malaise and apathy. Cowgirl boasts solid performances from its ensemble cast and earns indie street cred for its unique brand of experimentation, but it ultimately goes nowhere interesting.