a good job of being tasteful with a potentially awkward scenario - a
shy seventeen-year-old college freshman finds himself in a prospective love triangle with a
thirty-something woman and her wise-beyond-her-age fourteen-year-old
hear the family values phalanx roaring with moral indignation - and I'll
even acknowledge that on the surface it may be warranted - however, the
movie is normally self-aware enough to step back before it slips over the
line into bad taste.
complex moral dilemma actually only makes up about half of this film, though
it is certainly the more intriguing half, just because it is willing to take
such dangerous chances. The rest of the storyline is much more safe -
and pretty standard indie film fare - just bordering on cliché.
all seen the overwhelmed college freshman, coming to terms with life in the
new world of learning, despite the fact that his parents are pushing him
into a major he has no interest in. We have the party animal
roommates, the tough-but-understanding professors, the cute fellow student
who seems interested in our hero though he doesn't seem to notice, the
crazed booze soaked parties, the necktie on the doorknob - all the college
film touchstones are here.
Gallner does have an understated and melancholy charm as Aaron, a prodigally
smart but socially inept (read: virginal) teen who is going to an unnamed
"Ivy League college." (The script coyly makes this claim several times
but refuses to actually name the school. The film is actually mostly
filmed at the Western Michigan University and Kalamazoo College.)
Aaron is intelligent enough to get into the University a year early, but
immature enough that he probably shouldn't have. His overbearing
mother (Stephanie Venditto) and hen-pecked dad (Kirk Anderson) expect him to
become an engineer, but he wants to be an artist.
when auditing an art class, in which the sexually inexperienced kid makes a
bit of a fool of himself because he is flustered by the nude figure model,
Aaron falls into a flirtatious friendship with Linda (Laura Allen of The
4400), a beautiful older woman who has decided to return to school.
Both feel like outcasts because of their age.
night Laura invites Aaron for a home-cooked dinner, but instead of the
"letter to Penthouse" scenario the kid may be hoping for, he ends up
meeting her hard-edged daughter Beth (Britt Robertson) who at fourteen is
much more mature than Aaron is a few years older. Then, to top it all
off, he meets Linda's policeman boyfriend (Esai Morales), a basically nice
guy with a hair-trigger temper.
his constantly screwing around roommate, Aaron quickly falls into a habit of
staying over with the mother and daughter. As Aaron becomes closer to
mother and daughter, he comes to love both (in mostly chaste ways) and both
find themselves drawn to him in different ways. He also comes to learn
some of the skeletons in the closet of his new "friends."
In the meantime, while
Aaron is flitting back and forth between his two impossible relationships,
he barely notices the interest of a cute college girl named Darcy (played by Zosia
Mamet, daughter of playwright / screenwriter / director David Mamet and
actress Lindsay Crouse.)
part of the movie skirts into melodrama periodically, but it is mostly
interesting. His academic challenges - which I have not described for
good reason - are not nearly so intriguing.
However, I have to admit,
all through this coming-of-age tale, I couldn't help but feel that the
protagonist is in general not as interesting as the people who orbit around
him. Not just Beth and Linda - though a film about them would
definitely be more interesting - but even the cop and the quirky college
girl seem much more clearly fleshed out than our protagonist.
I know the film is about the kid trying to
find out who he is, but occasionally it feels like writer/director Jeffrey
Fine isn't quite sure, either.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2010 PopEntertainment.com.
All rights reserved. Posted: November 4, 2010.