Monday, April 7, 2008

Mean Creek (2004)

Let's get the white elephant in the room out of the way: yes, it has similarities to Stand by Me (1986), Deliverance (1972) and a little dose of Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness. However, Mean Creek manages to stand well on its own despite the obvious comparisons.

Set in the idyllic Oregon countryside, the film is about a prank-going-wrong after a group of kids decide to have their revenge on a school bully. After luring the said boy on a boating trip, some of the kids begin to take a liking for him and change their minds. The 'leader' of the gang, Marty, is adamant to continue. And when George, the bully, spews his venomous tirade on each and every one of them, it takes an accidental shove to change the lives of everyone involved.

The performances are great all around and like Stand by Me (I couldn't resist), the adults are only pawns in the background and are always tragically late. There is great chemistry between these kids and the individual background stories are very well communicated before the main action begins. Only Millie, the sole girl in the group, feels short-changed, but it's her character that we get more drawn to at the end.

It is a very smart film that is beautifully shot and executed. Although, it stalls about two-thirds into the story, it picks up where it left off shortly. The ending is more dreary than melancholy. And here it feels more like Deliverance. But a lack of a reasonable outcome leaves you - ironically - with a sense of closure. It is a very satisfying experience for that.

1 comment:

wheeler said...

Funny enough, the first thing I wrote and shot in high school was very similar to this story. I actually enjoyed this one, and the Pitt look-alike could be a great talent...

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