WASTED ON THE YOUNG
In the 'always on' but disaffected society of an elite high school, step brothers Zack (Alex Russell) the action man and Darren (Oliver Ackland) occupy opposite ends of the school's social hierarchy. At one of Zack's parties Xandrie (Adelaide Clemens), the only person with whom studious Darren ever connected, is drugged, assaulted and left for dead. When Xandrie doesn't show up at school Darren tries to find out what happened but no-one knows, says or does anything. When Xandrie finally does return to school it sets off a chain reaction with fatal results as Xandrie realises that nothing will be achieved by taking revenge. Darren decides that if he doesn't do something then no-one will. Darren's plan plays out at another one of Zack's parties and soon the brothers have their lives at the mercy of popular opinion.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
It's a classic high school clash: Darren (Ackland) is the nerdy but handsome thinker, tinkering with everything from history to science. Zack (Alex Russell) is the swimming team captain, an action man who looks down on everyone, and is the leader of the pack. Both actors deliver, but it's Adelaide Clemens as Xandrie who steals the acting honours with a subtle and memorable performance. She is both tantalising to look at and interesting as an actor, drawing us in, making us want to know more about her character.
When Xandrie doesn't show up at school one day, Darren discovers she had been raped and is reluctant to pursue the matter. Darren, however, is determined that the perpetrators face up to the consequences - which he himself plans, with the aid of social networking tools.
It could be argued that the two lead male characters are rather too prototypical, and that the filmmakers push the drama beyond naturalist limits. But that is what is intended in delivering the film a notch above pure naturalism.
While the plot could come from any number of US high school revenge dramas, with the bullies evading responsibility for their actions, the style is far more sophisticated and mature. The consequences for the characters are as extreme as their vile attitudes. The subtext of the story is a condemnation of self centred and arrogant youths whose selfishness and amorality spread like a virus.
Ben C. Lucas shows his natural cinematic talents from the start, using ingredients to establish the world of social networking as a key element in the film (and in its resolution) along with some stylish cinematography, such as the inventively shot swimming scenes. The fine cinematography is complemented by a full and intense score. Once hooked, we go with the flow as the story and characters are established.
Published first in the Sun-Herald
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WASTED ON THE YOUNG (MA)
CAST: Oliver Ackland, Adelaide Clemens, Alex Russell, Georgina Haig, Geraldine Hakewill, T. J. Power, Patrick Cullen
PRODUCER: Janelle Landers, Aiden O'Bryan
DIRECTOR: Ben C. Lucas
SCRIPT: Ben C. Lucas
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Dan Freene
EDITOR: Leanne Cole
MUSIC: The Transients
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Sam Hobbs
RUNNING TIME: 97 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Paramount
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: March 3, 2010