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dir Lisa Barros D'Sa, Glenn Leyburn
scr Daragh Carville
prd Simon Bosanquet, Michael Casey, Mark Huffam, Brian Kirk
with Rupert Grint, Robert Sheehan, Kimberley Nixon, James Nesbitt, Niamh Quinn, Paul Kennedy, Paul Garret, Conor MacNeill, Greer Ellison, Kathy Kiera Clarke, Kat Kirk, Lalor Roddy
release US Sep.09 laiff, UK 23.Apr.10
Girl trouble: Sheehan, Grint and Nixon
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E
With stylish camerawork and editing, the filmmakers liven up what is otherwise a strangely tame look at teen obsessions with sex and drugs. Some strong performances add a sense of angst, but it's never very convincing.
In Belfast, Malachy (Grint) is a responsible young guy working in the Titanic Leisure Centre, where he catches his 16-year-old colleague Donna (Quinn) having an affair with their boss Crilly (Nesbitt). Malachy is as sex-obsessed as the next guy, but his best friend Luke (Sheehan) is trouble: lively, charismatic and danger-loving. And real problems emerge when Malachy falls for Michelle (Nixon), Crilly's maneating daughter. Especially when Luke goes after her as well.
A brief prologue hints that something terrible is on its way, so we spend much of the film waiting for this grittiness to emerge. But the filmmakers take an oddly soft approach, shying away from anything truly provocative or disturbing. They get the atmosphere right, with free-spirited teens flouting the rules, plus back-stories about troubled families. But the aggressive scenes feel half-hearted, and the bad girls and boys aren't really that bad.
Perhaps this is partly the point, as these are teenagers trying to look rebellious. Which helps us understand the love triangle: Michelle is surly and more suited to Luke, but Malachy has more going for him. The three young actors are strong enough to make this tension believable, although Grint is the only one who underplays it perfectly, creating an intriguingly sympathetic character. We can actually see what Michelle sees in Malachy, although what he sees in her is less clear.
After that opening shot, there are continual suggestions that something's going to go horribly wrong, from careless joyriding in a borrowed car to the climactic leisure centre rave (it isn't called Titanic for nothing). But Luke is too loathsome to like while Michelle comes across as a manipulative freak, so we only ever care about Malachy. This leaves the climactic emotional revelations feeling both overwrought and corny. And the romanticised sex scene is pretty silly. Frankly, we see edgier and more thoughtful portrayals of teen life on TV every week.
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© 2010 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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