Sunday, 14 August 2011

Wasted On The Young

An Aussie Avenger By Lisa Holmes

Lover: Taken from IMDB

"Saw this at the Toronto International Film Festival. Thought it was stunning. A brilliant piece of film making. The story itself was compelling but also told in a way that did not reveal or signal. The use of dream sequences and flashbacks was great. The visuals were also outstanding, the underwater shots for me were unique. The large themes that were dealt with beyond the simple narrative made this film worth watching and it was done in a way that didn't hit you over the head. The music used also contributed greatly to the mood of the film. The choice to not show any adults, I recall only one teacher's voice but no shot of the teacher for example gave the film the Lord Of The Flies feel it needed to present this unique society which was an allegory for society at large. But all this done inside a suspenseful telling of a story that worked at the narrative level. Some very memorable line and scenes from this film. Loved it."

Hmm, visually there are some striking sequences in this film, memorable lines however? I’m not convinced, the large themes just about keep this film on track and on the right side of substance over style but there are certainly some issues with a Lord of the Flies reference. The action here is not depicting a gruesome descent in to primitive behaviour – instead it seeks to distance itself from the most violent scenes and views much of the emotion and physical action at a considerable remove. Not an entirely bad thing when you might not want to be creating ‘just another teenage thriller’ perhaps?

Hater: Taken from IMDB
"Australia has no adults nor authorities. This is a movie that at any time could have a realistic plot with the addition of post-teenage rationalism, but instead we are stuck with hormones and sterile egos.Is this what happens when there are no adults, no teachers, no authority figures, no police, no post-pubescent neighbors observing the self-servient and egotistical world of over-indulged, extremely privileged teens? This is Lord of the Flies redone with text messages. There is really no creativity here, no reality. The movie pits the brainiacs versus the jocks; the entitled versus the proletariat. Kudos to the acting skills of several of the members and the film crew did a good job. It's the plot that disappoints. There is no higher meaning, no layers to scrape away and discuss after the credits roll. This movie is obvious, superficial, and without redemption.Save time and instead of watching this, read something."

To easily dismissed and too easily swayed by the fact the story revolves around teenage protagonists and isn’t some kind of gritty urban drama, it’s much more classy than this reviewer thinks…

What Lisa thought:

Vacuous teen thrill fest, or stylish Aussie chiller with plenty of hidden depth? In short Wasted on the Young is both of these.
Set in a detached glossy and ultra modern world, inhabited by super rich teens devoid of any kind of social or parental supervision, reviewing this film in light of this week’s events feels like a very different exercise than it may have been last week. Personal and social responsibility is at the forefront of everyone’s minds right now, and some of this story resonates with ideas of violence, boredom and lack of recognition of authority.

The film has undoubted high productions values, it looks fabulous as it skips back and forward between fantasy and flashback using a washed out palette of blues and greys to differentiate from the bulk of the action. This at least elevates it above the usual round of teen movies.

Beautiful Xandrie (played by Adelaide Cummins, who looks strikingly like Michelle Williams) falls for computer geek Darren (Oliver Ackland) who just happens to be the step brother of the swim team captain and all round alpha male Zack (Alex Russell). So far so typical teenage film plot. But then a drug and alcohol fuelled party ensues at the brother’s sterile brick and glass home – they have been left to their own devices by their ever absent parents – and the film takes a darker turn.

One of the major stumbling blocks with the course of the film and in particular its ending is the almost gratuitous use of technology throughout, from indoor CCTV, to remote controlled devices. Whether this is a clever commentary on the increasing lack of physical contact between peers, the unreality of an action witnessed on a screen or via a live text feed, or as the ending seems to suggest, a unique method for the total abdication of personal responsibility.

Cyber bullying plays its part with Xandrie driven to her death by an online campaign, whilst Zack and the swim team are as idealised and feared as they have ever been. The implication being that social hierarchy is as impossible to surmount as it seems during our school days unless you have the backing of the nameless majority who have previously quietly accepted the status quo.

The most effective visual device is undoubtedly the use of the swimming pool throughout the film, visions of perfect bodies ploughing through seemingly bottomless black water, with eerie blue backlighting makes the solitary swimmers seem both single minded, and totally narcissistic. In this shallow world winning is all that matters.
Unfortunately it is the ending that lets the film down the most. What is apparently supposed to promote a chilling sense of detachment and acceptance of fate ends up cheapening the whole film and taking it in to pseudo-Saw territory.

I enjoyed this film even if it did not live up to its early promise. It looks good but the plot fails to pack the punch it is looking for. Ultimately the characters and the world they live in are just too shallow and too far removed from everyday life. They work well as beautiful, cautionary stereotypes. There have been better Australian films in the past year but Wasted on the Young is not a waste of your time, and it speaks volumes about a healthy and creative Australian film industry.

Available on DVD 15th August
Cert: 15
Running Time: 93 mins

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"Films are Loved, Films are hated. I'm here to help you decide where you stand..." I also do web work including a good knowledge of HTML, ASP, using the adobe web package and a strong understanding of SEO, Google Analytics.