Movies: Emily VanCamp dazzles in ‘The Girl in the Book’

Actress Emily VanCamp is best-known for the sudsy TV series Revenge but she proves she can bust out of that soapy straitjacket in The Girl in the Book, a quietly compelling sketch of a nearly 30-year-old woman on the verge of an emotional breakdown.

VanCamp is Alice Harvey, a harried junior editor at a New York publishing house who’s something of a literary star herself, though few know it. As a teenager, she provided the inspiration for a bestselling coming-of-age novel, written by the predatory Milan Daneker (Michael Nyqvist), a star client of her domineering, literary-agent father.

The story slips back and forth in time between a young Alice (Ana Mulvoy-Ten), unsure and overwhelmed by Milan’s advances, and the older Alice, still unsure and overwhelmed by life. Her only outlet appears to be unrewarding one-night stands.

But her soul-deadening routine is disrupted by her overbearing boss wanting her to oversee a re-release of Milan’s book -- meaning she has to deal with the man she wanted to forget -- and meeting nice-guy Emmett (David Call) who deserves more than a few drunken hours of her time. Something’s got to give.

VanCamp gives a layered, memorable performance while writer/director Marya Cohn, making her feature debut, has crafted a non-linear story that artfully tip-toes between cliche and truth.

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The Girl in the Book

(out of five)

Director: Marya Cohn

Cast: Emily VanCamp, Michael Nyqvist, Ana Mulvoy-Ten

Rated: Unrated (sex, strong language, adult themes)

Running time: 86 min.