By Matt Singer | Criticwire May 7, 2013 at 10:04AM
More and more films premiere on Video on Demand -- if they don't simply bypass a theatrical release altogether. Because VOD reviews are often scarce and hard to find, Criticwire created VODetails, a recurring column to help you figure out whether a new VOD release is worth your hard-earned dollar. This time we're looking at "Norman," the story of a troubled teen who falls in love -- not the story of a troubled motel owner who falls in love (and then kills a woman in the shower).
Director: Jonathan Segal
Cast: Dan Byrd, Emily VanCamp, Richard Jenkins
Criticwire Average: B (3 critics)
Official Synopsis: "Norman Long is a high school loner, a self-aware and darkly funny teen who's just trying to handle his daily existence. In the wake of his mother's sudden death, Norman must now also deal with the reality that his father is starting to lose his battle with stomach cancer. Norman, depressed and angry, unintentionally gets caught in a lie that he, in fact, has stomach cancer. Soon his complete distortion of the facts spirals out of control. Part coping mechanism, partially as a way to feel closer to his father, and to a certain degree to prepare others for his possible suicide, Norman begins to imitate his father's debilitating physical symptoms, dramatically affecting his life and the world around him."
"One of those intimate indies that makes an excellent case for micro-economics in filmmaking, with director Jonathan Segal wringing every bit of emotional purity and ironic humor that he can out of this teen coming-of-age in a life surrounded by death story."
"A bracing twist on the genre."
"Byrd and VanCamp are fantastic in their roles."
"The film will not be about these tragedies happening to [Norman], but with how he deals with them. That's a worthy change from a more ordinary teen movie."
"Byrd's performance, paired with Andrew Bird's ethereal score, makes for some genuinely haunting moments. Unfortunately, the rest of the film is pulled straight from the 'Everwood' universe."
"Norman" is available now on VOD and iTunes.