Valley of the Dolls ★★½


First hour: "Not as campy as I'd always heard. Almost elegant, even."
Second hour: "Ohhhhhhhhhhhhh."

Oddly enough, my guilty-pleasure circuits were activated by the comparatively sober (but still decidedly trashy) "rise" half, rather than by the increasingly overwrought "fall." Robson appears to be a hack (tenuous assertion based solely on this, The Seventh Victim, and the immortally titled PHFFFT), but of the genially competent, Ron Howard variety; give him passable material and he'll at least hold your attention. Executing hairpin tonal shifts, however, clearly wasn't his forte, and he loses control of the movie when everything starts going to hell. Despite the semi-happy ending for one character—altered from the novel, apparently—all three of the stories (intertwined rather loosely; onscreen, at least, these women never really seem like friends) come across as punitive rather than symptomatic, making the home stretch just plain unpleasant. Early on, I was drafting a tweet referring to the film as Certain Women '67. By the end, it felt more like a tonier version of Requiem for a Dream.