The Wise Kids

14 08 2011

The Queer Film Festival started on Thursday, but I didn’t get to start watching any films until last night, at Day 3.  I would’ve really liked to see We Were Here but unfortunately, I was at work and was only able to make it to one of the late screenings.  I’m glad to start reviewing queer films again!

Synopsis: The film follows the stories of three teens in a small, southern town in the US as they prepare for college, face religious questioning, sexuality issues, and make the transition into adulthood.

Super awesome things: Stephen Cone’s direction is really impressive in this.  Instead of cutting out silences and getting to the characters talking, he lets them linger, creating huge amounts of awkwardness not only for the characters on screen, but for the audience as well.  There’s one scene where a man comes out to one of the kids and his fumbling for the words as he confesses a part of himself created massive amounts of tension (Will he say it?  Will he chicken out?) that, ultimately, is true to life.  No one speaks so eloquently all the time, and Cone understands that.

The acting is also noteworthy in that all three “Wise Kids” do a great job.  I have my reservations about young actors but their sensitivity and the way they handled the characters made them seem real.  Last but definitely not least, there were so many subtle things and subtext that it was clear the writing and filming was well-thought out beforehand.  When one of the teens, who is having her doubts about her faith and is in the church play (I think?) depicting the crucifixation of Christ, there is a scene where one of her lines is “Where is he?”.  The director of the play makes her say it several times, and of course the subtext here is that she may be wondering aloud, “Where is He?”  Fantastic stuff.

Not so super awesome things: The only thing I really have to gripe about this film is that especially in the first third of the film, the camera tended to dolly around the characters, which became really noticeable after a while and took me out of the film a little.  I also wish there was some conclusion to Tim’s subplot with his homophobic brother but I guess you can’t resolve everything.

Good for watching: For a quiet, reflective night if you want to watch a film that makes you think.

Overall: Stephen Cone is adorable.  A fantastic way to start off the festival (for me, anyway).

Grade: A-