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Peter T Chattaway

The Wise Kids

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New on Netflix:

 

In a Baptist church community, three teenage friends contemplate the next stage of life. There's Brea, an introspective pastor's daughter; hyperactive Laura, a devout believer; and Tim, a gay teen navigating his faith as he prepares for college.

 

The poster on the film's IMDb page indicates that this film was a New York Times critics' pick, and that Roger Ebert himself liked it.

 

Anyone here familiar with it?

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NBooth   

Link to our thread on Henry Gamble's Birthday.

I watched this the other night, actually, because of the thread on HGB. This is really, really good. It captures well some of the tensions of growing up in this particular subculture and discovering, eventually, that one has gradually been moving away from verities that once seemed unassailable. And--as folks have said about HGB--it's a very kind, even-handed portrayal.

The scene where the preacher's daughter is practicing for the Easter pageant and gets hung up on--and then invests with entirely unexpected meaning--the line "They've taken my Lord" was profoundly moving and recognizable to pretty much anyone who has been on a similar journey (whether or not they eventually returned to some version of the faith).

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I finally watched this last night, after Darren retweeted a tweet from the director, saying that the film was leaving Netflix today. I liked it a lot.

The scene NBooth mentions is a keeper, for sure. I was also struck by the way a certain married man raises his hand to his forehead at an emotionally cathartic moment, and we can see the wedding ring on his finger. But I think my own favorite moment is the one where Laura tells Brea "don't leave it lightly": the way the camera stays on Laura's face, so that the moment is definitely about *her* more than it is about Brea, and the way Laura's trying to give Brea space while also making it very clear how important Brea's actions are *to Laura*, and the way Laura's trying to sound so calm and definite yet she's still clearly kind of "bargaining" with Brea, etc., etc. Beautifully handled, and it's still lingering with me.

There are points in the film when you can see how very easily it could have turned into a more formulaic sort of movie (the wife of the repressed gay man throws herself at another man!). But it doesn't. It treats these characters like real people, right to its final moments.

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