‘Farah Goes Bang’: A Love Letter to Female Friendships

Farah Goes Bang movie poster
Written by Amanda Rodriguez
Spoiler Alert
“I wanted to do something I hadn’t done before. Change the world and be awesome.” – 17 year-old female John Kerry Campaign Volunteer in Farah Goes Bang
Meera Menon’s Tribeca Film Festival award-winning Farah Goes Bang is a lot of things: it’s a coming-of-age and sexual awakening story, a road trip narrative, a political tale, a multicultural expression, a chick flick, and a love affair with all the beauty and grit of the American experience. The strongest facet of this film, however, is its unflinching depiction of the strength and intimacy of female friendship.
The story centers around three young women who’ve just finished college and decide to take a road trip together as volunteers on the John Kerry presidential campaign. Our heroine, Farah, is tired of her pesky virginity and wants to lose it on the campaign trail. On the road, both Farah (Persian) and her friend Roopa (Indian) encounter racism along with its companions stereotyping and bigotry. Menon talked in an interview on KeralaNext.com about the culture clash the women encounter:
“Their odyssey through the heartland of America is meant to demonstrate the ways in which these girls are often not seen as American, though they are as American as any other. I really wanted the film to integrate their faces and races into a new sense of American identity, one that embraces the hybrid, cross-cultural form that I have experienced in my own sense of citizenship.”

All I have to say is: YES. As a feminist woman of color, this kind of representation of my experiences (and the experiences of countless women just like me) is invaluable. Showing these women as rounded human beings with troubles that are not so foreign or alien as white culture would have you believe is something we desperately need as part of a movement toward inclusivity, toward acceptance and the embracing of those our society typically marginalizes and others.   

“I think [the scarf] looks pretty, kinda like it belongs on you.” – KJ  “That is so racist.” – Roopa

Farah Goes Bang passes the Bechdel test all day long. The core of this film is the connection between these three women and how it supports them, gives them strength, allows them their fluidity of identity, and is fun as well as necessary for each of their unique journeys. Menon says

“The film, at its heart, is about the importance of female friendships during the rapid period of personal growth that is your twenties. I have learned so much through my friends, particularly female, about who I am and the woman I hope to be. This film is a love letter to how formative those relationships are when you are young.” 
Near the end of the film, Farah finally gets her hook-up on the much anticipated election night. It’s dark out, so we never clearly see the man she seduces, nor do we learn his name. (The seduction itself is a pivotal character shift because, until this point, Farah had always been meek and incapable of owning her sexuality.) After they have sex, she goes back to the cabin where her friends are, wanting to spend the rest of this meaningful night with the people who are most important to her: her girlfriends. It is the bond of friendship that sees these young women through the crushing disappointment of the election and the very adult realization that the world isn’t very easy to change.
KJ, Farah, and Roopa enjoying a special night of anticipation and fireworks.
Though the film is a bit rose-colored and unrealistic with some of its themes (Roopa’s lack of internal struggles render her one-dimensional when compared to her two friends, KJ’s cathartic conversation with a military vet, and Farah’s empowering encounter with a drag queen followed by her ideal one-night-stand with a beautiful, nameless stranger), it turns out it’s still nice to watch a movie about women that doesn’t involve a rape or murder (especially a women-on-the-road story), where the women don’t necessarily all get what they want, but they come out the other side together, happy, and ready for the next challenge.