The Veronica Mars movie is here!
For old Veronica Mars fans, the plot feels somewhat familiar. Logan’s rich and famous girlfriend has been murdered, and he recruits Veronica to clear his name. Veronica hasn’t touched a case in nine years, since her investigations lost her father the sheriff election and she transferred from Hearst College to Stanford in order to leave her old Neptune life behind, but she agrees to at least help Logan find a good lawyer. Then to help him come up with an alternate explanation of events. Then to do just a bit of snooping. But only a little. Only for a few days, until she returns to her life in New York, with a new job at a high-powered law firm and a year-old rekindled relationship with boyfriend Piz.
But of course she can’t resist the lure of investigating for long.
The characters are all at once familiar and unfamiliar. They’re believable as the teenagers we saw, ten years on. Veronica, especially, has softened and calmed, but she still has the same strengths and flaws we loved in her before. She’s brave to the point of recklessness, incredibly intelligent, determined, tenacious, but she’s so focused on her investigations that she hurts those she cares about. She uses all the resources at her disposal, even if those resources are people. She’s occasionally arrogant about her skills, to the point that she overlooks things and puts herself in danger. As a teenager, I wanted to be as tough and resourceful as teenage Veronica Mars. Now I’m in my twenties, I’m not so sure that’s a good idea, but successfully-graduating-law-school, still tough and intelligent and brave Veronica who accepts who she really is over the course of the movie? Hell yes. This is how you write female characters. With a lot of strengths, driving their own story, but with flaws too. And not flaws like “clumsy” and “too nice.” Flaws that seem to defy feminine stereotypes — too sure of herself at times (although right to be confident most of the time), too ready to ignore the needs of others, too certain that she’s right. Flaws that have lessened and morphed over ten years of personal growth, but ones that stick around and cause trouble for the new, more mature Veronica none-the-less.
Because, of course, Veronica hasn’t changed as much as she wants to think she has. When the movie opens, Veronica has been running from her past and from herself for nine years, and she’s put a lot of effort into convincing herself that she has the life that she wants. That she doesn’t want to investigate cases any longer. That she’s escaped from Neptune and doesn’t need to return. The movie then explores how Veronica has changed, yes, but how investigating, how righting wrongs in Neptune, is her true calling. If Veronica’s teenage story is about her breaking out of her hometown to become her own person, her late twenty-something story is about her returning as a grown woman to find her place in Neptune once again and fight against the injustices that initially drove her away. Veronica worked as a PI in part because she could not let go of her past. She couldn’t move on from the trauma she’d experienced, and was fighting it in the most direct way she could. She needed to go away, to grow, in order to come back and have her work be a true choice. Now she can be a PI because it’s her talent, because she cares about the injustices in the city. She left to grow, and now she’s returned to be who she truly wants and needs to be.
And, for once, Veronica doesn’t almost get fridged (quite literally, in season one) and then saved by an important male figure in her life. She solves a mystery, gets herself into a life threatening mess, and then just as resourcefully gets herself out of it. Finally.
Overall, it’s a pretty satisfying emotional plotline for those of us who’ve been fans of Veronica from the beginning. And luckily, that emotional plotline is wrapped in a movie that has all the witty, quippy dialogue, noir-esque voiceovers and heart-in-your-throat reveals and action scenes we remember from the show. Occasionally, the movie swings too far into “look at this minor character from the show!’ indulgence, and some of the exposition lines are a bit cringe-worthily obvious, but in general the movie strikes the right balance between revisiting the world of the show, exploring life ten years on, and getting stuck into a new mystery.
But despite how enjoyable the movie is, it’s left me with the deep conviction that this story is simply more suited to TV. To a season-long mystery that slowly unravels, to deep and complicated characters who reveal darker or more sympathetic sides of themselves, to things that need time to develop. The potential for a season one like mystery, where Veronica has been gone for ten years, Neptune has changed, and any one of her old acquaintances could be a suspect, made me a little sad. The movie felt like a feature-length opener to a revival of the show, and I’m still half-convinced that I’m going to be able to tune into another new instalment next week. Sure, there are novels now, but the movie has left me desperate for Veronica to return to TV. Please, Netflix?