By clarencecarter | REVERSEBLOG: the reverse shot blog January 29, 2010 at 3:44AM
Off and Running, the feature debut from documentary filmmaker Nicole Opper, jumps right into the existential crises of its heroine, Avery Klein-Cloud, dispensing with the introduction of background information before delving into conflict. Here, in the same breath that she tells us her name, Avery confesses with frank, articulate anxiety that she has decided to contact her birth mother for the first time, and proceeds to read to us from the letter she has agonized over for so long. The fifteen-year-old African American track star was adopted at a very young age by a lesbian couple who are raising her in Brooklyn with her likewise adopted brothers Rafi, a mixed-race child born of a substance-abusing mother, and Zay Zay, a much younger Korean boy. While the family is obviously close, there is an immediate sense that they are about to enter a period of great tension. The suddenness with which we are thrust into the action is refreshing, as is Opper’s refusal to milk the complex situation for emotional effect, but these instincts also underscore a persistent predilection to tell rather than show.