By Roger Costa
An irresistibly funny, debaucherous comedy about three best friends trying to have fun and make out on the last day of school, Emily Cohn’s feature debut definitely puts her under the radar as one of the freshest and most inventive voices in the industry. A crossing between the irreverent humor of John Waters and the young lusty of Gregg Araki, the film is highly supported by its trio of cute stars who provide screwball humor, tenderness and contagious euphoria. Isabelle Barbier plays Izzy, the center of the story, as she’s determined to lose her virginity during the “crushed” party of the title. She delivers an impressive characterization of a reckless, confused and very horny teen lacking self-confidence; her big eyes, and expressive manners and faces, demonstrate her accuracy on the comic field, leaving the audience wishing for some more of her; the drama she builds up around whether losing her virginity or preparing for a final, decisive astrology exam, is a classic, infallible formula of attachment to the audience; Sadie Scott shines as Fiona, the bowling center working-lesbian girl who will push hard to get Izzy on the adventurous side, while trying to hook up with a popular artist; and finally the versatile Deeksha Ketkar, as the Indian-descendant Anuka, a much more mature presence among her girlfriends’ sexual conflicts. Director Cohn proves her inventive skills infusing an energized, fresh rhythm to her stylish production: the text-messages exchanged by the trio, are brilliantly filmed and edited as real-time interactions, the same way their dreams and imagination keep floating on screen. A delightful quest for rapid love, first time sex, and school achievement, as well as an authentic portrait of this generation’s motivations and the power of friendship, Cohn scored a satisfying, accomplished directorial debut.
Driving around the dark, cold and rainy roads of his small Scottish town, a local fish-worker tries to run away from his past, while figuring out how to keep his children from committing the same mistakes; During his drive, he’s tempted to race with young rebels, enter the dangerous nightly crime activities, and rest at a bowling center. But, his troubles won’t let go of him, as his daughter-in-law, who’s pregnant and depressed, catches a ride along, giving things a re-start and a chance of reconciliation with now and then. Mark Stanley, who appeared in “Hellboy” and “Dark River”, gives a hypnotizing performance as the complex, aggressive, desperate father who is struggling with his personal dilemmas and perspectives on family; his biggest challenge is the acceptance around his oldest son, who isn’t much of a great worker, and somehow causes him embarrassment, especially at the work place where he cannot perform as expected. The same behavior is demonstrated in their home, as he’s engaged in a constant ‘ups-and-downs’ relationship with the wife, a pre-teen younger son, and the mysterious boxes filled with memories sitting on the garage; Haunted by these inner flashbacks reflecting on their current risky situation, he seeks guidance on his own, and ends up caring and fixing the one who’s carrying his future legacy. Stanley builds up an enigmatic male figure, a strong presence, a man on the edge of his limits, fighting with the very young rebel soul that still lives in him, maintaining a beguiling, thrilling sensation throughout the film. Writer-director Scott Graham’s third feature film is a suspenseful and provocative observation on a family crisis revolving around the patriarch and his troubled son. Gorgeously shot and preciously edited, it’s a fast-paced, heart-pounding and meditative road-rage movie.