Are you bike-curious? Girl Meets Bike is a motorcycle flick that accurately captures a part of the urban motorcycle scene. It’s visually orgasmic and the story paints an honest picture of the good and bad sides of our culture. I originally came across and wrote about Girl Meets Bike in October, 2013, when I covered The 2013 Motorcycle Film Festival Winners. I wrote:
There was one movie that I didn’t see in the winners list but that I felt deserved some kind of recognition… It was the story of a female tech. teacher who leaves her controlling fiance, cashes in her wedding dress, and buys a motorcycle. Not just any bike either. She picks up a beautiful 1991 Moto Guzzi 1000S. She learns to ride, and before long departs on her first “long” trip. Motorcycle philandering ensues. There are so many elements at play that ring a sense of familiarity here. Maybe it’s having had birthday dinner with MISSRIDER, the North and Central America conquering school teacher from Massachusetts. Maybe it’s the school teacher that I know who’s flirted with the idea of getting a motorcycle, and all of the things I think it could do for her self-esteem. Maybe it’s the simple fact that everyone in the trailer actually looks like every day real life motorcyclists, and not drawn up or over-the-top. These people could be my friends. They’re normal. They’re real. Maybe it’s the element of escapism that motorcycles bond with so well. The act of running away from responsibilities, pressures, social norms, and the rest of the bull**** we call “life”. I’ve taken that trip. I’ve got on my bike and rode away from it all. I’ve met some amazing people along the way. I’ve seen many female riders coming up. I’ve watched as they struggled to determine which men were trying to help them develop themselves as strong confident riders, and which men wanted to keep them dependent. If the film does as good of a job capturing all of those sentiments as the trailer leads me to believe it, than Girl Meets Bike is probably a great flick.
Watch the trailer:
I sent an email to the makers of Girl Meets Bike and promptly got a reply from Eric Tretbar:
Everything you said was precisely my intentions with the story, casting and shooting of the film. The films in the Fest were mostly builder videos (including the excellent White Knuckle) or, as one female viewer told me later, the things you either expect or have seen in biker films, including some cliches. I sifted through all this same cultural material and although I, like many if the other films, use the bike as a vehicle to freedom, I’m very proud to show a woman’s story. As you put it so well, the most fundamental choice is whether to choose men who encourage independence or dependence. (And that goes for all friends and lovers, male and female!) That’s exactly what I’ve observed since I began riding over 20 years ago.
Eric sent me a copy of Girl Meets Bike for me to watch, along with a patch and a post card. I popped in the movie on a cold wet winter day when I had no reason and no will to fire up my motorcycle. These are the days movies are made for. Girl Meets Bike has a slow warm up the characters. Early in the film dialogue is used sparingly and you’ll have to pay close attention and study the characters to really see the feelings and signals they express. This was frustrating at first and reminded me a time when I lived in France and the French “Drame Psychologique” style of film. I mentioned this to Eric, he said:
“I knew that stylistically, I was taking some chances–but we filmmakers have to give ourselves some treats, too. The strange thing I’ve experienced is that if a film is perfect from the git-go, it can seem dated and trite in even 5 years. And each film has its own inner logic and emotion which somehow, the filmmaker must follow. Hopefully, those elements of GMB that feel strange will ripen with time, as I’ve seen with some of my heroes like Kubrick and Kieslowski. Yes, I am an art-film lover ( and maker) so viewers expecting over-the-top blood and gore of an exploitation film or histrionics of Faster Pussycat may be surprised. But I’ve had an 80-year-old couple give me the best compliment. The next day after seeing it, they said that images just stuck with them. That’s my hope is that the film will come back to you and you’ll roll it around in your mind and body. It’s a slow burn approach rather than the Tarantino style of slap in the face–which can be fun, but can also wear off just as fast.”
Visually however, Girl Meets Bike was absolutely stunning. It was the kind of movie you could leave playing on your television at your next party with your motorcycle buddies, on mute, and people would still stop to watch. I’m not saying you couldn’t have a bunch of friends over to watch the movie, I’m just saying from an eyes-only perspective, it was beautiful. The soundtrack was well mixed as well. The French influence picked up again in the music in a few points in the film but they didn’t draw away from the stage that was set.
When I began watching the film I assumed I would love it. These types of great expectations before writing a review can lead to terrible disappointment, terrific confirmation, or self-fulfilling prophecy. In my case, I was thoroughly satisfied with the film. The story was a real gem. Kat is the lead character who struggles with her learning to ride and friends with questionable intentions. Throughout the film she stays true to her moral compass and her mantra. It makes her spectacular and draws us to her. She’s what we want to do and what we want to be, and to experienced riders, she’s what we all have been too.
“Kat is difficult for some viewers to like because she’s not smiling and apologetic and demure. But that’s THEIR problem, not hers. And for every viewer who calls her cold or selfish, there are 10 who say–yes! She’s courageous to do what she wants.” – Eric Tretbar
Kat just follows her gut and goes for it. What she wants to do, she does. She doesn’t beat around the bush or shy around the topic. Kat just might have more balls than most of the male motorcyclists I know. As Tret mentioned, some people might take issue with Kat: She’s somewhat of an introvert. She is the cause of some grief among her friends who seem to always be fretting about her. There’s no one thing about her that makes her particular hot. She isn’t a typical Hollywood heroine. She is just a combined sum of traits and characteristics. I found her very likeable. The cast did a great job as well. These were real motorcyclists. I’m not much of a film critic, but suffice it to say the friends looked just like your motorcycle riding friends, and they looked just like my motorcycle riding friends. This was a movie about dropping society’s conventions and norms and joining the world of motorcycling. It was a motorcyclist’s story, and it was played by motorcyclists. They captured a piece of the fabric woven into the urban motorcyclist culture. I don’t know if Girl Meets Bike is a flick for everyone, but it captures passion for riding and a zest for living life. If you don’t find any appeal in motorcycling, you may still find some appeal in Kat living her life to the fullest, however she sees fit. Check out the film: Girl Meets Bike.