New Year's Day

  • 2001
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Crime, Thriller

Screenwriter Ralph Brown's psychological puzzle cleverly keeps viewers out of the motivational loop circling his protagonists, while director Suri Krishnamma keeps the levels of suspense and tension high throughout. Teenaged Jake (Andrew Lee Potts) grew up in a single parent home in the projects, while his best friend, Steven (Bobby Barry), is the scion...read more

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Reviewed by Robert Pardi
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Screenwriter Ralph Brown's psychological puzzle cleverly keeps viewers out of the motivational loop circling his protagonists, while director Suri Krishnamma keeps the levels of suspense and tension high throughout.

Teenaged Jake (Andrew Lee Potts) grew up in a single parent home in the projects, while his best friend, Steven (Bobby Barry), is the scion of a snooty political family. Both have been anxiously anticipating a school-sponsored ski trip with their classmates, including Jake’s girlfriend, Luanda (Nicole Charles). But tragedy strikes when an avalanche snuffs out the promising lives

of several adolescents. Only Steven and Jake dig their way out of a powdery grave and survive the catastrophe. Despite the compassion of high school counselor Veronica (Marie-Jean Baptiste), neither can get past their survivors’ guilt or their growing contempt for the establishment. When a distraught Jake considers taking his own life, Steven proposes a compromise pact: They can spend the coming year committing 12 anti-social acts – one for each dead friend – and then commit double suicide. Unaware of the boys’ simmering rage, teachers and parents exercise restraint after they fire-bomb the school. But arson is only the first crime on a checklist of bizarre tributes; others include bank robbery, performing surgery, and punching a cop. With one exception, Steven never veers from his to-do list. But Jake doesn’t have the luxury to keep acting out: His mother and siblings depend on him. Disgusted by Jake’s change of heart, Steven continues hurling imprecations at the adult universe; curiously, he never let Jake in on the hidden significance of the highly-specific memorial tasks. After kidnaping Veronica for butting in, Steven threatens to kill himself, Jake and Veronica by wrecking his car. Can either teenager walk away from their misguided efforts to honor the dead?

Though not as tightly constructed as the similarly-themed THE SWEET HEREAFTER (1997), this cry of anguish grabs viewers by the throat and never lets go. The lead actors grapple fiercely with their characters’ existential dread as ineffectual grown-ups offer pity in place of understanding.

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  • Released: 2001
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Screenwriter Ralph Brown's psychological puzzle cleverly keeps viewers out of the motivational loop circling his protagonists, while director Suri Krishnamma keeps the levels of suspense and tension high throughout. Teenaged Jake (Andrew Lee Potts) grew… (more)

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