|SHADOWS ON THE WALL | REVIEWS | NEWS | FESTIVAL | AWARDS | Q&A | ABOUT | TALKBACK|
dir Michael Sucsy
scr Jesse Andrews
prd Anthony Bregman, Peter Cron, Christian Grass, Paul Trijbits
with Angourie Rice, Justice Smith, Owen Teague, Amanda Arcuri, Maria Bello, Michael Cram, Debby Ryan, Jacob Batalon, Lucas Jade Zumann, Sean Jones, Katie Douglas, Ian Alexander
release US 23.Feb.18, UK 20.Apr.18
18/US Orion 1h37
Under the sea: Rice and Smith
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
In the genre of weepy teen romances targeting 12-year-old girls, this movie is marginally more watchable than most. It has a strong, fresh cast and an oddball premise that lends itself to some rather disturbing moments, not that the script has the nerve to deal with them in a meaningful way. So in the end, the filmmakers' fear of their own themes kind of scuppers the movie. Even so, the idea is intriguing.
Somewhere near Baltimore, Rhiannon (Rice) is a bright 16-year-old with a hotshot boyfriend Justin (Smith) and sparky best pals (Arcuri and Teague). One day Justin takes her on an uncharacteristically romantic day out, because he has been "occupied" by the consciousness of A, who enters a new teen host each day. Over the following weeks, A reveals his/her story while visiting Rhiannon in a range of hosts, leading to a strange but wonderful romance. On the other hand, this requires Rhiannon to skip quite a lot of school, not to mention the logistical issues.
Yes, this is a relatively standard doomed relationship drama set in a fantasy world in which everyone is impossibly beautiful and smiley in the warmly glowing sunshine. Unless it's raining, which means that they're lonely and miserable. Skilfully directed by Sucsy, the film tinges this usual artificial perfection with darker side-plots like marital problems for Rhiannon's parents (Bello and Cram) and strained friendships. But the fact that she is essentially having a fling with a different "possessed" teen each day is shrugged off.
Always good, Rice is makes Rhiannon compelling and sympathetic. And she creates strong chemistry with each of A's guises, which range from a religious nutcase to a blind kid and a trans boy. These actors appear for a brief sequence before being replaced, so it's impressive that they each register as well as they do, creating a nice overall sense of A's personality. Meanwhile, Bello and Cram offer a bit of gravitas in their thinly drawn roles.
The film is entertaining whenever it isn't trying to make the audience sob. As in most of these movies, the sudsy romantic touches feel ridiculous to anyone outside the designated demographic. But the innate awkwardness of a love story that progresses through a series of very different partners is just unusual enough to keep this from feeling as predictable as it is. And the fact that the filmmakers are willing to end it without the expected epilog is noteworthy.
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S|
|Still waiting for your comments ... don't be shy.|
© 2018 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
HOME | REVIEWS | NEWS | FESTIVAL | AWARDS | Q&A | ABOUT | TALKBACK