Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Watch: Ellen Page And Kate Mara Are 'Tiny Detectives' In Hilarious 'True Detective' Parody Watch: Ellen Page And Kate Mara Are 'Tiny Detectives' In Hilarious 'True Detective' Parody 10 Female Directors Who Deserve More Attention From Hollywood 10 Female Directors Who Deserve More Attention From Hollywood Miles Teller Says Role In 'Divergent' Made Him Feel "Dead Inside," And He Took Movie "For Business Reasons" Miles Teller Says Role In 'Divergent' Made Him Feel "Dead Inside," And He Took Movie "For Business Reasons" First Look At 'The Dying Of The Light,' Paul Schrader Quits Film Over What Nicolas Winding Refn Calls "Artistic Disrespect" First Look At 'The Dying Of The Light,' Paul Schrader Quits Film Over What Nicolas Winding Refn Calls "Artistic Disrespect" New Images From 'Interstellar' Arrive, Christopher Nolan Says The Film Is A "Mirror" Of 'Inception' New Images From 'Interstellar' Arrive, Christopher Nolan Says The Film Is A "Mirror" Of 'Inception' Watch: New Trailer For ‘Kingsman: Secret Service’ Starring Colin Firth, Samuel L. Jackson & Taron Egerton Star Watch: New Trailer For ‘Kingsman: Secret Service’ Starring Colin Firth, Samuel L. Jackson & Taron Egerton Star Chilly New Banner For Christopher Nolan's 'Interstellar' Explores A Cold New World Chilly New Banner For Christopher Nolan's 'Interstellar' Explores A Cold New World 15 Films That Failed To Hit The 2014 Fall Festival Circuit 15 Films That Failed To Hit The 2014 Fall Festival Circuit Watch: Steven Soderbergh Re-Scores And Changes Steven Spielberg's 'Raiders Of The Lost Ark' To Black-And-White Watch: Steven Soderbergh Re-Scores And Changes Steven Spielberg's 'Raiders Of The Lost Ark' To Black-And-White Watch: Have A Threesome With Very NSFW Clip From 'Maps To The Stars' With Julianne Moore & John Cusack Watch: Have A Threesome With Very NSFW Clip From 'Maps To The Stars' With Julianne Moore & John Cusack First, Mostly Rave Reviews Arrive For David Fincher's 'Gone Girl' First, Mostly Rave Reviews Arrive For David Fincher's 'Gone Girl' Watch: New Hilarious Red-Band Trailer For 'The Interview' Starring Seth Rogen And James Franco Watch: New Hilarious Red-Band Trailer For 'The Interview' Starring Seth Rogen And James Franco Fantastic Fest Review: Hitman Thriller 'John Wick' Starring Keanu Reeves, Willem Dafoe & Adrianne Palicki Fantastic Fest Review: Hitman Thriller 'John Wick' Starring Keanu Reeves, Willem Dafoe & Adrianne Palicki 'Deadpool’ Spin-Off With Ryan Reynolds Is Finally Green Lit, Set For A Winter 2016 Release Date 'Deadpool’ Spin-Off With Ryan Reynolds Is Finally Green Lit, Set For A Winter 2016 Release Date 10 Films We Haven’t Yet Seen That May Be Serious Oscar Contenders 10 Films We Haven’t Yet Seen That May Be Serious Oscar Contenders The Best Documentaries Of 2014 So Far The Best Documentaries Of 2014 So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The Best Films Of 2014 So Far... The Best Films Of 2014 So Far... From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki The 10 Best & Worst Movie Sex Scenes The 10 Best & Worst Movie Sex Scenes

Brooklyn Film Festival Review: 'Amy George' Nails The Innocent & Free Feeling Of Childhood

The Playlist By Christopher Bell | The Playlist June 6, 2011 at 4:19AM

With all of the children-centric movies that populate the cinema landscape, why do so few of them actually feel like adolescence? For the most part (obviously depending on how and where you grew up), childhood represents the ultimate freedom. The heavy responsibilities of life have yet to strangle all the glorious fun out of the being; one has all the time in the world and it's spent trying to figure out what amusement will come next. Unfortunately, movies tend to bog down all of that with plot points, character arcs, etc, actively destroying the genuine feeling of being a wee lad or lady, naive and innocent. If any kind of person (in this case, character) should just "be," it should be the youth, possibly the most illogical of us all. In "Amy George," the very competent indie debut outing by Yonah Lewis and Calvin Thomas (C & Y), the filmmakers refrain from even the lightest story devices, fully embracing the essence of being young without relying on contrived incidents to fall back on.
0


With all of the children-centric movies that populate the cinema landscape, why do so few of them actually feel like adolescence? For the most part (obviously depending on how and where you grew up), childhood represents the ultimate freedom. The heavy responsibilities of life have yet to strangle all the glorious fun out of the being; one has all the time in the world and it's spent trying to figure out what amusement will come next. Unfortunately, movies tend to bog down all of that with plot points, character arcs, etc, actively destroying the genuine feeling of being a wee lad or lady, naive and innocent. If any kind of person (in this case, character) should just "be," it should be the youth, possibly the most illogical of us all. In "Amy George," the very competent indie debut outing by Yonah Lewis and Calvin Thomas (C & Y), the filmmakers refrain from even the lightest story devices, fully embracing the essence of being young without relying on contrived incidents to fall back on.

Jesse (Gabriel del Castillo Mullally, who we'll hopefully see more of) spends most of his days in Toronto climbing trees, killing time, and avoiding the daily vitamin his Mother issues to him. He doesn't seem to have many friends (though he's also not a loner nor an outcast) but he enjoys the company of women, with one of the early key scenes involving him trying to convince a girl that her hickie/neck rash is hardly visible. The boy seems comfortably average -- nothing terrible but nothing fantastic, but he can't complain either way. It's only until one of his teachers encourages the class to do some true, personal art that Jesse takes a look inside and discovers some insecurities and yearnings to be taken seriously.


Selecting the medium of photography for the assignment, his parents purchase him a film camera and leave him to his devices. But placing the brush in a boy's hand doesn't automatically create anything, and his lack of inspiration leads him to wander parks and the suburban streets of his neighborhood. Not the big change he expected, only now the heaviness of doing something "personal" and "serious" give the usual excursions a certain type of bleakness. While he's at the library, Jesse stumbles on a book with a few quotes that stand out, including one stating that you cannot be a true artist unless you have a shitty life or have regular sex -- adding another grounding weight to his life.

But this shove towards maturity doesn't snap into place so quickly, and the film continues to work in a fragmented, loose, stream-of-consciousness kind of way, having Jesse meander around and have typical conversations with his classmmates. The young photographer visits his alcoholic Aunt -- the only adult he's truly honest and open with -- and laments his decent upbringing that is currently preventing him from becoming a "true artist." While she encourages him positively, it's only until the arrival of the titular neighbor Amy George and her subsequent sleep-over (her father is in the hospital for a broken arm after fending a home intruder off) that he comes into contact with the adult moments that he longed for. However, this strain to partake in things reserved for the mature leads him to do something very questionable.

No spoilers, but the filmmakers' instinctual style and emotion-driven direction prevent what occurs from being overly shocking; instead, it feels appropriately uncomfortable and sincere, a kid made to interact with things so far above him that he makes an unfortunate decision. While their style is still in its infancy (to be truthful, it's leagues ahead of most indie festival fare), C & Y capture some terrifically shot moments that legitimately feel like adolescence in its purest form. The lack of narrative doesn't make it the quickest film, nor does it make it very easy to swallow, but you can feel the liberty of youth and the nostalgia for those long, carefree days.

There's some polishing and sharpening to be done for sure, but "Amy George" displays serious talent and we hope there is more to come from Yonah Lewis and Calvin Thomas. [B]

This article is related to: Films, Yonah Lewis, Calvin Thomas, Amy George


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates