Lisa Conroy (Regina Hall), the protagonist of Support the Girls, is the master of the thin smile, the deflected compliment, and the steely glare—in short, she is a middle manager. So she has to put up with the short temper of her idiotic boss, Cubby (James Le Gros), massage the growing pains that come with training a new cadre of hires, and maintain a low ebb of empathy and support for her employees at all times while still being their boss. It’d be a tough role to have in any workplace, but Andrew Bujalski’s new film is set in a Hooters-like restaurant called Double Whammies, where the hot pant–clad employees are denigrated the second they walk in the door.
This suffocating environment is populated with customers who range from presumptuously flirty to downright nasty, and that’s all on top of the injustices that are usually part and parcel with a job in the service industry. Bujalski’s brilliantly low-key film follows an unusual day in the life of Lisa and her employees. The story is anchored by an astonishingly natural turn from Hall, who communicates the years of Lisa’s emotional labor with every weary sigh, pregnant pause, and genuine show of affection for her co-workers.
Support the Girls is not a film that will benefit from overhype. It’s a comedy without any belly laughs, and its charm lies in its quietest moments, much like with Bujalski’s last (also excellent) film, Results, which followed a languid romance between two personal trainers. But Support the Girls is an even more complete work, a story not just of workers but of a workplace; it has a profound sense of the space Lisa and her waitresses have to navigate, and of the quiet aggressions that lurk around every corner.