Afterschool (Antonio Campos, 2008)
Despite faceboy's rave reviews of this film, I was a little skeptical about the film at the start. For one thing, it seems to have it's arthouse cred written all over it in the way it's framed and shot and so on. Secondly, it's set in this elite school and I braced myself for the usual cliches about rich kids whose self-absorbed parents have no time for them. But the film eventually won me over.
It reminded me of Paranoid Park
in the way it gives us this impressionistic view of high school as a cold, isolating experience for our protagonist but while Gus Van Sant's film feels almost poetic to me, there's something terribly sterile (almost literally) and documentary-like about this one. I also found the issues that the film explores really interesting. How the ubiquity of internet and youtube impacts our worldview. The fact that there are cameras everywhere and the way this affects our behavior. It also simultaneously seems to be examining questions about the film-making process itself like the ethicality of capturing something on video and staying behind the camera when a certain act is taking place.
There's also something really assured about the filmmaking here. I found this especially true of the scenes where we see Rob interacting with Amy. These are the scenes where we get a glimpse of the fundamental identity crisis that Rob is experiencing.
I think my one criticism of the film is that while the dialogue-free scenes (of which there are quite a few if I remember correctly) work really well, some of the lines seem trite and heavy-handed. This is particularly true of Rob's telephone conversation with his mom early in the film and the school principal's monologues which make him sound particularly clueless. But there're enough scenes where the film feels a lot more nuanced and interesting.
Two other things that really stood out for me are Ezra Miller's performance which is really great and the incredible sound design in the film.
Someone should tell me if this film is still eligible for the Filmspots this year. Grade: