Originally published on my Prague-based autobiographical blog, which I’m now selectively and slowly republishing.
It’s possible that director James Ponsoldt did not have the courage to make the movie that some of the well-observed moments demand. It’s possible that he couldn’t. I don’t know.
But this tale of teenage alcoholism left me feeling that there were no real stakes for the characters or for the audience. A clever voiceover at the end is surely not enough to atone for or correct the emptiness of a young life.
I appreciate the ambiguous expression on his former girlfriend’s face as Sutter Kelly shows up at her school to… what? Ask forgiveness for ditching her and failing to live up to commitments? Tell her he was going to AA?
She looks like she’s about to say, It’s too late, and then the screen goes dark, which is a glib move, I’d say, as was the unpunished and too easily forgiven traffic accident and drunken driving.
This character needed an intervention in more ways than one and the film needed more guts and ethics, among other things, and also parents who were written rather than pointed at a plot problem and told to go fix it.
Typical Sundance shallowness.