Edward Furlong’s cinematic career emulates the life of the Average Joe American. He was a fresh-faced, endearing child in 1994’s Terminator 2: Judgement Day (James Cameron). He became an aggressive and rebellious teenager in American History X (Tony Kaye 1998). And now he sort of loafs around watching reruns of Ice Road Truckers and Swamp People.
During his brief period of stardom, Furlong exhibited true talent, specifically in the above mentioned American History X. Telling the story of a rehabilitated neo-nazi (Edward Norton) and his younger brother, eager to follow his skinhead footsteps (Furlong), the film excellently sheds light on racism and family in modern America.
The film consists of two alternating timelines: the past, showing the contributing factors to Norton’s plunge into Nazism, his eventual arrest, and his rehabilitation in prison, and the present, in which Norton attempts to rid himself and his younger brother of his demons. The stylistic choice to shoot the scenes from the past in black and white evokes an emotional reaction from the audience and is a great metaphor for the racial tension throughout the film. Of course, it’s also really fucking obvious.
The drastic images portrayed in the film walk a dangerous line between being offensive and unnecessarily dramatic, and being insightful representations of racism. Kaye walks the line brilliantly and employs incredible images, without seeming profound simply for the sake of being profound. Furthermore, some scenes from the film are deeply moving. Some others are just plain badass.
Speaking of badass, Norton’s performance is beyond stellar, even if his swastika tattoo looked alarmingly like Sharpie. With the exception of trying to pass for a teenager, Norton’s transformation is entirely believable. The depth of his character is reflected in the emotions he depicts, and it’s easy to root for him. At least, after the whole curb-stomping fiasco.
|Tell me I’m pretty!|
The Edwards’ performances and the stylistic choices of the film make this story of racism easy to get lost in. There are some immortal images within these two hours which almost negate the poor supporting cast. And now I know that “Put your mouth on the curb” is the scariest and most badass thing anyone can ever say to you.
Bonus Drinking Game
Take a Drink: every time you hear a different racial slur
Take a Drink: for Elliot Gould. He deserves it
Shotgun a Beer: during the curb stomp scene, just so you can pretend to be as awesome as Edward Norton