Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Daydream Nation (2011)

With his feature debut, Daydream Nation, director/screenwriter Michael Goldbach wanted to find a voice of his own. Although the film has a few flaws, it is one of the most memorable films from 2011 that I've seen so far.

Caroline Wexler (Kat Dennings) moves from the city to a small town with her widowed father. She's to finish High school and most of her classmates try to figure out how to get high in order to escape their quotidian boredom. Caroline decides to seduce her English teacher (Josh Lucas) and have sex with him.

To cover it up, she starts dating Thurston (Reece Thompson), probably the most sympathetic of her stoner classmates. However, both the English teacher and Thurston end up vying for Caroline's love. As life goes on, people in the town also try to cope with an industrial fire in a nearby town and a serial killer with a white suit on the loose.

One remembers Daydream Nation more for Kat Dennings's performance as Caroline. With the right dose of arrogance, confidence and fragility, Dennings illustrate Caroline's cynicism in such a natural way. She reminds us of any extremely smart teen we've come across in high school with this particularly funny line: "There's more incest in this town than in an Atom Egoyan movie."

While the script smartly switches between drama and comedy, one may find Daydream Nation a little bit too long. This is because the film goes a little bit too much into some sub-plots that provide back-stories about some female students who got killed or other supporting characters' issues. Of course, Goldbach's objective was to show the anxiety in the small town and the feeling that there's nothing to do, but these sub-plots could have been trimmed down without hurting the director's vision.

While the film is not necessarily perfect, Michael Goldbach has brilliant future ahead. Overall, the depiction of the three leading characters' issues (Caroline, Reece and the English teacher) might seem heightened for entertainment purposes. However, guess what? It works, because the actors don't over-act! The film Daydream Nation is a nice and quirky coming-of-age story about characters who suffer before realizing that happiness might just be around another corner.

Rating: 4/5

Origin:Canada (2011)
Length:98 minutes
Genre:Romantic drama
Screenplay:Michael Goldbach
Director:Michael Goldbach
Starring:Kat Dennings, Josh Lucas and Reece Thompson

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