It’s extremely difficult, to write a review for a film, that had every intention of being beautiful. From the cinematography to the score from Reznor and Ross, to the sound design, the lighting and the incredible performances from the lead actors, everything seemed to be perfect except for the unsettling and infuriating storyline of the protagonist.
The first act was uncomfortable to sit through because of the nonsensical choices that were made for a well educated black teenager from a strong household. Kelvin Harrison Jr. gave a stellar performance BUT Trey Edward Shults turned him into a degenerate who makes the dumbest life decisions. It got to the point where Shults purposely made his protagonist, Tyler, do the complete opposite of what an intelligent black teenager would do. I also believe that writing in an unwanted pregnancy and having it end in such a horrendous and traumatizing way is something a white male shouldn’t have tackled. I felt so much anger during the first act and I truly wanted something terrible to happen to Tyler, he deserved so much worse than what he ended up with.
The execution of this story was handled so poorly and it was a very sensitive subject. I wish this film had more dialogue in order to discuss these matters, rather than show such brutal outcomes. I wanted more conversations between Sterling K. Brown and Kelvin Harrison Jr. because their relationship was so important. The first act lost any respect I had for the characters and I didn’t really care what happened for the rest of the film.
The second act switched gears and hit a sweet spot. The narrative turned into the aftermath of Tyler’s consequences. His sister, Emily played beautifully by Taylor Russell. It was a breath of fresh air when she took control of the narrative. Also, when Lucas Hedges stepped into the picture as Luke, I knew he was going to save this movie from being a complete mess. Luke and Emily’s chemistry was so natural and I loved them together, there was so much purity and their dialogue was effortless. It was like two pure hearts coming together and creating a bond.
This film would have worked better if the 2nd act started the film and the 1st half acted as flashback footage. I truly believe it would have been more powerful in that capacity.