Saw this at the Rotterdam film festival 2017 (website: iffr.com). The
synopsis on the festival website contained ample pointers to avoid this
movie, for example "life revolves around vying for popularity, hanging
out, falling in love and looking for kicks". Luckily there was only
little attention for partying, courting, clothes, and more such, unlike
other movies covering youngsters of high-school age. The real drama
took some time to develop, but once becoming apparent it stayed in the
forefront, and so should it be.
A bit problematic (for me) is that the finale went a bit too fast and
too bloody for my taste, something that did not follow logically from
what happened before. It seemed a bit over the top. On the other hand,
a different ending was not easy to think of, as involving the police
and the legal system would have ruined the story completely. Moreover,
it would require bringing in the parents of our main protagonists,
which usually does not bode well for the clarity of the drama. Anyway,
unexpected turns of events came at a steady pace and without weak
moments, one step after another. The role of the female college
students was less cultivated, as if they were only background tapestry,
or maybe serving as catalyst material to speed up developments but
otherwise not really crucial for the outcome.
Unclear is the opening scene where a deer is found dead in the class
room with a broken window. It took some time before the police entered,
who started exchanging glances with each other, but I'm at a loss what
it all meant.
From the final Q&A I learned a nice statement: "planting little seeds
here and there is the essence of script writing". And also: Rhythm and
pacing are important (it was a side answer to a question about the
sound track, but even more applying to the screenplay).
Also from the Q&A: A serious attempt was made to give Josh more
dimensions in his character. Same for the others, though they did not
need it that much. All were nice young men without really bad habits,
but only nice is not enough to keep our interest.
All in all, I was glad to have booked tickets for this movie, despite
my fears that it was to become another coming-of-age story with too
much time devoted on courting and partying. This time there were no
problems along that line. It sustained a real focus on the central
story and its pacing of subsequent developments. The audience awarded
this movie a mediocre 73rd place (out of 172) with an average score of
3.905 *out of 5).