Monday, July 5, 2010

Sydney Film Festival: Wasted on the Young

High school, that torturous, hormone-saturated enclave once again proves fertile ground for a thriller in Ben C. Lucas’ West Australian gut churner. The film’s striking aesthetics and austere architecture make for a stylish twist on the teenage revenge tale, whereby social media becomes an agent of both torment and justice after a party gets out of control. With no adults in sight, the captain of the swim team, Zack (Alex Russell) rules the school; his new, nerdy stepbrother Darren (Oliver Ackland) submitting to this state of affairs until Zack and his posse take advantage of Xandrie (Adelaide Clemens), the bright eyed blonde he fancies. Subjective, temporal shifts reveal that both Xandrie and Darren are taking matters into their own hands, each to a disquieting end.

As a debut film, writer/director Lucas impresses with his visual style and fruitful collaborations with cinematographer Dan Freene and production designer Sam Hobbs. The film also benefits from good casting, with Clemens resembling Michelle Williams (Shutter Island) in looks and potential talent, and Ackland proving as compelling in this latest cautionary tale as he is in the anti drink-driving ad campaign for which he is most widely known.

However Lucas’ screenplay doesn’t manage to live up to the visuals; with a potential case of style over substance being further complicated where the latter is disturbingly drawn from the tragedies of Columbine and Virginia Tech as well as the realities of cyber bullying. Such questionable source material weighs down what is otherwise a glossy thriller.

Published by Street Press Australia
Australian release date (theatrical):3 March 2011

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