Buy It Now (NR) ** 1/2

Chelsea Logan, Rosemarie Dewitt, Chris McCann

Directed by Antonio Campos
6 p.m., Monday, June 13; plus 8 p.m., Tuesday, June 14

Buy It Now is really two films in one: The first, a pseudo-documentary about 16-year-old New Yorker Chelsea Magan (Chelsea Logan) who puts her virginity up for sale on eBay, is a stunning, moving and brilliantly acted portrait of the empty and sad lives of teenage girls in America. The second half, though, almost completely undercuts the power of the first half, as writer-director Antonio Campos abandons his fake realism for a more conventional narrative, telling the exact same story with Logan once again in the lead, and filling in many of the blanks that the documentary half left to the imagination.

What’s so impressive about the film’s first half is the way it conveys so much in the elided moments when Chelsea isn’t using her video camera to record everything she does. Logan’s raw and striking performance captures the intensity of teen life so well that at first it’s easy to fall for the conceit that the film is real. But the second half replaces raw emotion with clichéd speeches and heavy-handed performances, especially from Chris McCann as the man who buys Chelsea’s virginity. As a 30-minute short film, Buy It Now is a masterpiece; as a feature, it’s a frustrating failure.

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