By: Henry J. Fromage (Three Beers) –
Kevin McDonald, he of The Last King of Scotland and Enter the Void fame, making a high concept teen romance? What is this world coming to?
Not good things… not good things at all
Saoirse Ronan (fuck yeah, Hanna and, umm… The Host) stars as an American teenager sent to Britain to live with her cousins by her shitty dad. This is near-future, terrorist-beleagured Britain, however, and just as soon as she’s warming up to her new surroundings (and hunky cousin… yeah, that’s un-addressed) an unknown catastrophe throws the national into a state of martial law, and her family/love interest (really, nobody comments on it at all) into peril.
Kevin McDonald has an excellent eye for aesthetics, and this is hands down his most beautifully shot and edited film. Cinematographer (), of course, deserves some credit for that, but every technical detail of the film is top-notch, especially the handling of the excellent soundtrack. The acting complements this well, although really Ronan shoulders the majority of that load. Still, her chemistry with xx is excellent, and in only 40 minutes accomplishes what Twilight couldn’t in xx, deliver a believable romance that you actually feel some emotional stake in.
What’s particularly admirable about this film, though, is that it zigs where just about every other teenage romance film zags. McDonald is absolutely unafraid of making the hard choice, and going as dark as the story requires, which is probably why it isn’t playing on three screens in your local cineplex. It’s also probably why this is far and away better than any film in the genre that has. Kudos especially on that ending.
What is up with Saoirse Ronan and the voices in her head? After the cinematic full-speed faceplant that was The Host, you’d think that’d she’d avoid scripts with massive amounts of inner dialogue. Just like that film, it’s a device that most likely plays much better on the page than the screen, and here it’s a distraction even if you admire the impulse of trying to render a teenager’s complex anxieties, opinions, and fears audible.
Kill yourself. … Try KFC’s new double Triple Double Down, now 99 cents at a location near you! … Joseph Smith is the one true prophet. …
In a weird way, this film isn’t horrifying enough. It seems like they were leaving the odd trial or tribulation out, as for all the horror the characters do experience, it’s all over rather quickly, and wraps up in a nuanced but still overly tidy resolution.
The world needs more teenage romance/horrifyingly realistic distopian flicks like this one.
Take a Drink: musical montage time!
Take a Drink: whenever the voices in Ronan’s head come back
Take a Drink: whenever the little ginger annoys up the place
Do a Shot: when this ain’t Twilight anymore (repeat for each raised stake)