|SHADOWS ON THE WALL | REVIEWS | NEWS | FESTIVAL | AWARDS | Q&A | ABOUT | TALKBACK|
dir Derick Martini
scr Derick Martini, Steven Martini
prd Alec Baldwin, Jon Cornick, Barbara DeFina, Steven Martini, Angela Somerville, Michele Tayler
with Rory Culkin, Alec Baldwin, Jill Hennessy, Kieran Culkin, Emma Roberts, Timothy Hutton, Cynthia Nixon, Adam Scarimbolo, Brandon Thane Wilson, Logan Huffman, Phillip Pennestri, Louis Ruffolo Jr
release US 8.Apr.09, UK 2.Jul.10
Coming-of-age: Culkin and Roberts
SUNDANCE FILM FEST
TORONTO FILM FEST
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
Offbeat and funny but thoroughly realistic, this period drama explores issues of family, youth and social pressure through the eyes of a 15-year-old who's just starting to realise that people perhaps are more complicated than he ever imagined.
Scott (Rory Culkin) is a teen in 1980 Long Island, where his parents (Baldwin and Hennessy) are planning to build a new house while his meathead big brother (Keiran Culkin) is just back from basic training. He has a crush on his neighbour Adriana (Roberts), whose mother (Nixon) is failing to cope with the fact that her husband (Hutton) has Lyme disease. Both families are struggling with social mobility, marital stress and the tensions of the time they live in. Not to mention some very bad decisions they make.
The film has a funny-quirky tone that's continually subverted by darkness, from the way Scott is violently bullied at school (and even more brutally defended by his brother) to the stark erosion of both marriages. Alongside this is a general paranoia over Lyme disease (and other things), which director Martini captures through Scott's perspective and some clever filmmaking touches. Meanwhile, he recreates the period with telling detail while still allowing us to identify with the characters.
Most scenes have a slice-of-life quality, with glimpses of family and community activities, personal interaction and the minor transgressions everyone indulges in when no one else is looking. These elements make the characters feel layered and human, even if most scenes are rather aloof and sketchy. But the actors all give strongly internalised performances, hinting at the private fears and desires of these fragile people.
Overall the film is low-key and enjoyable, full of lively characters who are recognisably authentic even though they're mainly played for bitter laughter. The constant series of small dramas and confrontations isn't hugely revolutionary, but it is played with unusual honesty and nicely tinged with dry wit. And underscoring everything is the raw tragedy of these people's lives, in which everything they take for granted is falling apart. It's a fascinating portrait, but oddly unmoving.
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S|
|Still waiting for your comments ... don't be shy.|
© 2010 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall|
HOME | REVIEWS | NEWS | FESTIVAL | AWARDS | Q&A | ABOUT | TALKBACK