Having fun yet? Five teens take over an abandoned amusement park (l to r: Amsing, Buble, Turton, Fletcher).
dir-scr Scott Smith
with Brendan Fletcher, Kett Turton, Crystal Buble, Brent Glenen, Sean Amsing, David Lovgren
99/Canada 4 out of 5 stars
Review by Rich Cline
One of the more unusual teen dramas out there, Rollercoaster defies expectations in its examination of teen angst and peer pressure ... among other things. With its grim themes and storyline balanced by a refreshingly human tone, it's vaguely similar to Lynne Ramsay's remarkable Ratcatcher. Especially as it also features first-rate filmmaking and acting. The premise is simple: Five teens break into an empty Vancouver theme park where rumour has it that the security guard (Lovgren) will run the rides for them. But everyone in this film has a secret--and the guard's is the most disturbing. As for the teens, Darrin and his girlfriend Chloe (Turton and Buble) have made a suicide pact after finding out that Chloe's pregnant ("We're not gonna bring our baby into this world," she says bitterly). Darrin's little brother (Glenen) is terrified when he finds out about the real purpose for the day out, while Darrin's best friend (Fletcher) is fighting an inner battle over his sexuality. Meanwhile, Sanj (Amsing) goes happily along with everything, knowing his own secret will unravel everything.

There's nothing remotely stereotypical about these characters, and they're played with a wisdom far beyond their years by a very gifted young cast. We see the world through each one's eyes ... and it's pretty bleak and cruel, made bearable only by the goofy antics they get up to. Smith's script and direction are remarkably insightful, augmented by Bob Aschmann's stunning cinematography. The range of issues touched on is a bit overwhelming--friendship and loyalty, responsibility and delinquency, abuse and mistrust--and there are lots of unanswered questions about these characters. But it's so bracingly real (and far from Hollywood cliches) that it deserves an audience.

[strong adult themes and situations, language] 7.Apr.00
London L&G Film Fest Apr.00; St Louis Film Fest Nov.00

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Jenny Beast, net: "This is one of the best movies ever made. It captures so much authenticity and emotion, it really gets to you. Once you see it, you can't stop thinking about it. It makes you think about your own friends and how easy it is for one of them to be gone forever. Scott Smith is incredible for creating such a realistic image of 5 friends trying to look for fun. I love how each character has their own personality. There's the shy quiet one, the outgoing optimist, the follower just there to tag along, the crazy obnoxious one, and the poetic princess. I love all the music as well. It really sets the mood for the scenes. I think Brendan Fletcher is one of the greatest actors ever with such intensity and passion, and he just goes to the maximum and puts in his full ability. He's amazing, I can never take my eyes off of him. Kett Turton was very good also. I love his anger moments. That really intrigues me and keeps me in suspense. I love the whole situation between him and Chloe and the pregnancy, the love and the reason for being at the amusment park. This movie is pure beauty and is an erotic phenomenon. Movies like this are rare to find, and are rarely made this brilliantly. I love what Darrin says: 'I'm tired of looking on the mirror and pretending not to see my eyes.' That just says so much about his character and his emptiness, knowing Chloe's mistakes and betrayal. I would love to see more Scott Smith films, hes a marvelous artist." (4.Nov.04)

Liz, Illinois: "One of those movies that after you see it once, you want to watch it again. The cast did a wonderful job portraying their characters and are very convincing in their roles. I loved it." (1.Aug.05)

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2000 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall