Youth in Revolt

...which I ended up seeing instead of Ponyo today. Every mother and child in north London turned up at the Wood Green cineplex to watch the latter, so my fellow film-goers and I settled for the former. The last time this happened, it was fortuitous -- instead of Avatar I saw Sherlock Holmes, which was great. This time, although the screening room we ended up in was LUSH, I was less lucky. Youth in Revolt was a bust.

Four problems, in ascending order of grievousness. First, Michael Cera is not only typecast but genrecast. The kook for kook's sake is finally starting to grate on me too. I think back to Garden State and Juno, which had enough charm and laughs to win you over to their sideways look at the world. This had neither. There were a few chuckles, true, but nothing that substantially enlivened the story. And Vijay was the only character who charmed me (because he's British? Perhaps...) Man, when did the indiefilm sensibility get so dull?

Second. Sheeni Saunders. Love interest. Mysterious. Unknowable. Blank. Character-less. A cipher. Offensive?

Third. The final scene attempted to force through the message that getting the girl is all about being yourself, except that the rest of the film tended to suggest the exact opposite. It looked like tearing shit up and being a badass was the key to Sheeni's heart. Who does she fall in love with, Twisp or Francois? More importantly, WHY?

And we come to the film's final crime. There is a bulimic outcast character called Bernice, who is made into a villain even though her only crime is being ruthlessly taken advantage of by Cera. His deception is really quite unforgivable, and yet he is forgiven. The film's misfit lovebirds trample all over the real misfit. What happens to Bernice is just mean. Cera isn't likable at all after that, even if he is wearing a dress! The film's misfit-solidarity stance is a sham. Cera is actually a really horrible human being. And his girl isn't enough of a real person to notice.

The more I think about it, the more disagreeable it becomes. Hopefully, Miyazaki will provide a good antidote...

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