This film seems to confirm and amplify Abrahamson's (Adam & Paul, Garage) considerable strengths as a film-maker, and,
to a lesser extent his frustrating weaknesses.
On the plus side, he is great with his actors, both in who he casts and what he gets out of them. His characters always feel
complex and real. He also sets up very convincing, morally ambiguous worlds, situations and people. No easy heroes and
But he also has a tendency to be drawn to melodramatic twists, and those actually make his films less interesting, not more,
as it feels like he's trying to force the emotional issues.
In many ways my favorite part of the film was the first 45 minutes before the central incident. Abrahamson excells at observing
and capturing the complexities of late teen-age life with subtlety and a fresh eye. These aren't the desperate angry street kids
of poverty, nor are they the morally bankrupt idiots we often see upper-class kids portrayed as. They feel real; they drink, but
they're not all alcoholics and stoners. They have sex, but more often than not it's attached to some sense of emotion, at graspings
towards being in a relationship. Their parents are flawed but trying. Its people as people, not just symbols, even though subtle
issues of class and social standing inform the whole story.
But when it gets to the big twists and the big themes, I felt it laboring more, working at it's effects instead of letting them happen.
Its not that the 2nd half isn't good,its that it lacks the power the set up and situation seems to promise. It sticks to it's ambiguity,
but that starts to feel just a touch like an intellectual conceit, not an exploration of darker human truths.